Verstappen Targets Fourth Title Amid Challenges from Rivals

Max Verstappen appears poised to secure his fourth consecutive driver’s title with Red Bull as the dominant force in the upcoming Formula One season, starting in Bahrain.

Despite ongoing investigations into allegations of controlling behavior by team principal Christian Horner, Red Bull has garnered significant momentum and unveiled an impressive car during pre-season testing.

With regulations remaining stable and driver line-ups unchanged, the season ahead promises a sense of déjà vu as Formula One embarks on its longest-ever calendar, spanning 24 race weekends until early December.

Verstappen’s mental fortitude, the team’s established winning culture, the innovative designs of Adrian Newey, and an unwavering hunger for success are unlikely to be shaken by any leadership changes.

Following a remarkable season where Red Bull clinched a record-breaking 21 wins out of 22 races, with Verstappen securing 19 victories, along with 12 poles and nine fastest laps, accumulating a staggering 575 points, the team is confident in their ability to maintain their supremacy.

However, the team’s success will also hinge on the performance of Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez, who showed promise with two wins last season but struggled for consistency. For Red Bull to achieve another dominant season, Verstappen will require support from the Mexican driver.

Despite improvements from rival teams evident in pre-season testing, none have showcased as many updates and revisions as Red Bull’s RB20, which commemorates the team’s 20th anniversary. This signals their commitment to innovation and excellence in the pursuit of continued success on the track.

Daniel Ricciardo, a former race winner for Red Bull, commented on the team’s dynamics. He continues with the team this year, now associated with the rebranded Red Bull junior team, RB, after shedding the Alpha Tauri label; “It’s a team that operates at its best when they are winning.

“When they’re winning, it’s like they just want to crush the competition completely. It’s not like ‘ok, now we’re winning, let’s go on holiday’. It’s like ‘let’s really put our feet down.”

In their second season under the leadership of team principal Frederic Vasseur, Ferrari is making significant moves to enhance their performance in 2025.

Their most notable change is the recruitment of seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton to replace Carlos Sainz. With only one triumph last year, Ferrari is determined to make strides forward.

The team is confident in the reliability of their new car, which they believe will translate qualifying speed into race performance.

However, despite Charles Leclerc’s optimism after topping the times on the final day of testing, they acknowledge that they still have ground to cover to challenge the dominant Red Bulls.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team has also made improvements to their car. Both Hamilton and his teammate George Russell have praised the car for being more “driveable” and comfortable, signaling a promising start to the season for Mercedes.

He stated, “It’s not the ‘diva’ that it has been for the last two years.”

McLaren expressed optimism following testing, but Lando Norris acknowledges that they still lag behind Red Bull and Ferrari. Among the chasing teams, Aston Martin isn’t overly confident about their prospects.

“I don’t have a crystal ball,” stated two-time champion Fernando Alonso, aged 42.

“But Max is the world champion and Red Bull are dominating. I think 19 drivers in the paddock now think they won’t win. It happens that way for 99 percent of your career. It’s a brutal sport.”