No repeat of Red Bull 'runaway', but ex-F1 man backs Max for fourth title

By Sports Desk March 01, 2024

Max Verstappen may be the clear favourite for a fourth straight Formula One championship, but Paul di Resta does not see Red Bull having it all their own way in 2024.

Verstappen has dominated the sport in the past two seasons after pipping rival Lewis Hamilton to win his first title back in 2021.

The Dutchman was champion by 146 points in 2022, then stretched that gap to a staggering 290 points last year as he won 19 of 22 races.

Di Resta, who drove for Force India, hailed Red Bull's "incredible job" as they "pulled out a couple of wins they shouldn't have", but he expects Verstappen to at least have some competition in the coming campaign.

"People will get closer this year, 100 per cent," Di Resta told Stats Perform. "It's not going to be a runaway like it was.

"But to get on top of that at every grand prix with the advantage that he had at some tracks last year, I don't see how they can lose the championship, to be honest, unless somebody's got something hiding in the wind tunnel that they're going to bring out and surprise everyone with.

"Over the course of the season, I think he'll get the job done.

"I think he'll have a harder time at it, and I'd like to see them more in battle. I'd like to see them up against Lando [Norris], I'd like to see them up against Lewis, Ferrari in there as well.

"The biggest thing is when it's closer, when you're having a bad day, you're having a bad day. When you're having a good day, you're having a good day. The swing was not big enough ever because he was always winning last year."

Mercedes did not win a single race in 2023, but Di Resta sees the Silver Arrows as Red Bull's biggest rivals again in what is set to be Hamilton's final season with the team before joining Ferrari.

"I think it'll be Mercedes," he said. "They've said they're coming out with a car that's very different, very different philosophy.

"They are undoubtedly still one of the best teams in Formula One, and I think just when you look at the last 10 years and how they've gone about their business, you have to believe in that."

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    After four rounds of the current season, Verstappen holds a 13-point championship lead in his bid to secure four consecutive world titles. The next race takes place in Shanghai a week on Sunday.

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    March 16 – Australian Grand Prix (Melbourne)
    March 23 – Chinese Grand Prix (Shanghai)
    April 6 – Japanese Grand Prix (Suzuka)
    April 13 – Bahrain Grand Prix (Sakhir)
    April 20 – Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (Jeddah)
    May 4 – Miami Grand Prix (Miami)
    May 18 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix (Imola)
    May 25 – Monaco Grand Prix (Monte Carlo)
    June 1 – Spanish Grand Prix (Barcelona)
    June 15 – Canadian Grand Prix (Montreal)
    June 29 – Austrian Grand Prix (Spielberg)
    July 6 – British Grand Prix (Silverstone)
    July 27 – Belgian Grand Prix (Spa-Francorchamps)
    August 3 – Hungarian Grand Prix (Hungaroring)
    August 31 – Dutch Grand Prix (Zandvoort)
    September 7 – Italian Grand Prix (Monza)
    September 21 – Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Baku)
    October 5 – Singapore Grand Prix (Marina Bay)
    October 19 – United States Grand Prix (Austin)
    October 26 – Mexico City Grand Prix (Mexico City)
    November 9 – Brazilian Grand Prix (Interlagos)
    November 22 – Las Vegas Grand Prix (Las Vegas)
    November 30 – Qatar Grand Prix (Lusail)
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