Leclerc and Hamilton fear Red Bull could go unbeaten until 2026 

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton have admitted Red Bull might remain invincible in F1 until 2026, such is their advantage. 
Max Verstappen (NLD), Red Bull Racing and Lewis Hamilton (GBR), Mercedes AMG F1 Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11,
Max Verstappen (NLD), Red Bull Racing and Lewis Hamilton (GBR), Mercedes…

Red Bull have dominated since midway through 2022, the first year of F1’s current regulation cycle, and have won 21 of the last 22 races. 

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The Milton Keynes outfit is currently enjoying an unbeaten start to the 2023 season, having been victories in all 12 races so far, with Max Verstappen charging towards his third consecutive world title. 

Leclerc and Hamilton are the only non-Red Bull drivers to have claimed pole positions this year. 

Leclerc, who proved to be Verstappen’s nearest challenger in the first half of 2022 before his title challenge spectacularly collapsed, reckons Red Bull will be hard to catch before the end of the 2025 season, when the next set of regulations come into force. 

"For sure they have a really big margin and it's going to be very difficult to catch them before the change of regulations,” Leclerc said. 

Asked if he agreed with Leclerc’s assessment of Red Bull’s dominance, seven-time world champion Hamilton said: “The fact is they are ahead, and most likely have been developing next year's car already a month before everybody else as they're 100, 200 points ahead in the championship. 

"So it's very, very possible that Charles could be right, but we're working on the steep gradient trying to develop, and get ourselves to close the gap. Whether or not we can next year will be proof within that, I hope we can.”

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Spa Francorchamps,
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19. Formula 1 World Championship,…

Verstappen could equal Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine successive victories at this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix, and Hamilton believes there is a “high chance” the Dutchman wins all the remaining races this campaign. 

"There is a high chance that he'll win every race,” he said. “But, we're hopeful that we can challenge them at some point, whether it's this weekend or who knows where. And if there are any mistakes, any mishaps, we'll be right there to try and capitalise on them.

"They don't really make them, or he hasn't made any, and the team hasn't made any this year I think anyway. So yeah. They might win everything. Hopefully later on in the year, we'll get closer maybe. Not much really more to say.”

But Leclerc remains hopeful that Ferrari can start to close their race pace deficit to Red Bull. 

The podium (L to R): Greg Reeson (GBR) Red Bull Racing Tyre Technician; Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing, second; Max
The podium (L to R): Greg Reeson (GBR) Red Bull Racing Tyre Technician;…

"I think it's different than in the past," Leclerc added. "In qualifying we're much closer than what we've seen in the past.

"Normally when we see a team dominating it was qualifying and the race, now for some reason with Red Bull, it's much more in the race than in qualifying.

"The gaps are much bigger in the race than in qualifying. That's why we're all working on our race pace because Red Bull is so far ahead. There is still a lot of work to do.

"We have some developments in the next few races that can help us do a step forward but also with this car we can have some unexpected surprise because they are so sensitive cars that a small change can have a big influence. And hopefully it will be the case for us."

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