Have Red Bull taken a step backwards? Toto Wolff weighs in after ‘downgrade’ spat

Toto Wolff gives his verdict on whether Red Bull have taken a recent step back in performance.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB20. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB20. Formula 1 World Championship,…

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has weighed in on Red Bull’s recent F1 performance and believes the gap between the top four teams is “shrinking”.

Red Bull returned to winning ways at the Canadian Grand Prix but endured a tricky weekend in Montreal, which came after their worst performance of the 2024 season so far at the Monaco Grand Prix.

The reigning world champions were well off the pace in Monaco as their RB20 car was hampered by kerb-riding and bump issues, which they also struggled with, to a lesser extent, in Canada.

Red Bull’s issues prompted Mercedes technical director James Allison to suggest that a recent upgrade package could be delivering a “downgrade” in performance.

“It does look as if their upgrade was a downgrade,” Allison said. "So, fingers crossed that would really mess them up.

"That [an upgrade not working] makes life hard, because the moment you stop trusting your tools, you have to backtrack, and you lose loads of time. Time is your biggest friend, losing it is your worst enemy.”

Allison’s claim was quickly shot down by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who fired back: "Even with our downgrade, we managed to beat their upgrade. It was a rewarding race to win.”

Asked whether he thinks Red Bull have taken a step back in recent races, Wolff told Sky Sports F1: “The last few races were more difficult for them [Red Bull]. I think everybody has been taking good steps forward.

“There were two or three teams that could have potentially won the race [in Canada], maybe us not quite.

“I don’t know whether they’ve [Red Bull] taken a step backward. The most important thing is it [the gap] is shrinking.”

However, Wolff anticipates Red Bull will be competitive at the upcoming run of European races, starting with next week’s Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona.

“Maybe Barcelona will be interesting, whether they are strong there,” Wolff said.

“Austria is their territory. McLaren was strong there last year when they had their comeback. That’s never a good one for us.

“You can’t discount Max and the Red Bulls, they are still the benchmark, they are right up there.

“But McLaren has made huge steps, and don’t forget Ferrari, they were not visible [in Canada], but two weeks ago [in Monaco] they were the benchmark.

“That’s four teams that are competitive now.”

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