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David Coulthard on why the 2023 F1 season could be the “closest ever”

Coulthard Red Bull

Max Verstappen and Red Bull are in celebratory mode this winter after one of the most dominant seasons ever seen in Formula One.

The Dutchman won a record-breaking 15 races on his way to his second World Championship after Ferrari failed to deliver on the promise they showed in the opening races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Charles Leclerc managed to hold off Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez for second place in the Drivers Championships despite a number of reliability issues and questionable decisions hampering the Monégasque’s season. Their poor performances has led to changes at the top with Team Principal Mattia Binotto making way for Fred Vasseur who previously worked with Leclerc at Alfa Romeo.

Red Bull weren’t without their own issues this year as were found in breach of the cost cap which has led to a 10 percent cut in their aerodynamic testing time. However, despite that, and rumours of disagreements between the drivers, Christian Horner’s side look to be the team to beat once again in 2023.

However, speaking to Pundit Arena at the recent Red Bull Homerun in Milton Keynes, former driver and Channel 4 pundit David Coulthard believes that three teams still have a realistic chance next year.

“I think Red Bull have got to be the favourites because they have just dominated the last season. The regulations are not changing so much going into next year so the teams will continue to develop what they have got.

Max Verstappen Red Bull

“But that was the case anyway all year as Mercedes took all year to develop back into a winning car. Ferrari had a very fast car but they just didn’t manage to get strategy and reliability right.

“In my mind’s eye, I think it sets us up for three teams genuinely having a chance of winning. There’s some very small changes to the regulations but nothing major, so on paper this could be the closest ever world championship in 2023.”

The other major news from Red Bull at the end of the season was the announcement of the return of Daniel Ricciardo to the team following his departure for Renault at the end of 2018.

Ricciardo returns as a reserve driver after he was dropped by McLaren in favour of fellow Australian Oscar Piastri who will drive alongside Lando Norris in 2023.

Coulthard believes a return to Red Bull will be of benefit to Ricciardo and help him rediscover any lost love of Formula One.

“It feels like he’s coming home in many ways. He left home, somehow needing to spread his wings. But Renault didn’t give him much success and although McLaren gave him one win, he did a lot of reputational damage alongside Lando Norris.

“This is a chance for him to rediscover what brought him into Formula One and what made him such an exciting driver at Red Bull Racing, and it has to be a springboard for him to try and come back onto the grid.

“Now, given the difficulties this season for him at McLaren it’s going to be very difficult for him to find a route back into Formula One with a Mercedes, a Ferrari. Red Bull would seem the obvious place, but Max [Verstappen] is there for the long term and Checo [Perez] has done a very solid job, so it may be difficult for Daniel.

“He’s one of the friendliest, smiley-est drivers in Formula One, but this is a stopwatch competition, not a personality competition.”

Red Bull Racing are set to take to the streets of Dublin next month for the Red Bull Showrun. Coulthard will be getting behind of the wheel of Sebastian Vettel’s Championship winning RB7 car while Red Bull Motorsports Athletes Conor Shanahan (Drifter) and Mike Jensen (Stunt Bike Rider) will join Coulthard for the Showrun in an epic display of skill and showmanship.

After a successful run in Belfast, Coulthard is relishing the chance to return to Ireland for the sold-out event. 

“It’s fantastic that we have the opportunity to take Formula 1 beyond the race track. I’ve been involved in a number of car run events in different cities around the world. It’s great to have it happen in Ireland, in Dublin and I know the craic is going to be great, I know the energy is going to be great and I just hope the weather is good for us so we can put on a really nice demo. 

“There’s a kindred spirit between the Scots and the Irish so I’m looking forward to it and I’ll maybe persuade my old buddy Eddie Jordan to come along and spread some of his craziness.”

Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.