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Luke Smith

Webber: Red Bull will remain "dangerous" threat in F1 2023 title fight

Red Bull swept to its first championship double since 2013 last year as it wrapped up both titles with more than a month to spare.

Max Verstappen won a record 15 races en route to his second F1 drivers’ championship, while Sergio Perez’s pair of victories and biggest season points haul to date aided Red Bull in securing the constructors’ title.

Although Ferrari put up a serious challenge in the early part of the season, Red Bull emerged as the dominant force through the second half of the year, winning 10 of the final 11 races.

Its only defeat in that time came in Brazil to Mercedes, whose resurgence through last year has led many, including Verstappen, to anticipate a tougher challenge for this year’s title.

But ex-F1 driver Webber thought the comment was “very polite of Max” as he believed Red Bull would remain the toughest force to beat this year.

"Red Bull are still the most dangerous team coming out of the blocks," Webber, who raced for Red Bull between 2007 and 2013, told Autosport.

"Actually, everyone has to lift their games in all aspects. We saw that Mercedes had great reliability, Ferrari of course less so. But Red Bull had good reliability and were strong at all tracks.

"And Max, it's just ‘Formula 1 plus’ for him at times. I think the highlight for me was to see what he did through the field in Spa. That was just unbelievable."

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18 (Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images)

Red Bull heads into 2023 with the disadvantage of a reduced aerodynamic testing allowance as punishment for breaching the $145million budget cap in 2021.

The team has been adamant the sanction will have a big impact on its car development, with its permitted aero running reduced by 10% until October.

"I don't think anyone knows really how much that's going to impact them, but I'm sure they've got enough creative people there to keep it going,” said Webber.

"But I think we also don't know how much Mercedes have given up on this year. In some ways, giving up is not the right word, because there's always some learning for next year.

"But I mean how they allocated the time, the R&D and the money under the budget cap between last year and the 2023 car.

"Thanks to those elements, it's going to be fascinating to see how the first quarter plays out next season.”

Red Bull will unveil its new car, the RB19, on 3 February in New York before getting its first extended run-out at testing in Bahrain on 23-25 February.

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