F1 Summer Break Review: Red Bull Racing
Pierre Gasly and Max Verstappen during 2019 season. (Photo by Charles Coates, Getty Images)

F1 Summer Break Review: Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen has proven his worth, but Red Bull at breaking point and split ties with Pierre Gasly.

matthewwatkinson
Matthew Watkinson

Having had a torrid time last season with Renault at the heart of the Red Bull, the switch to Honda seemed a risk for the 2019 season, but a risk well worth taking judging by the first half of the season.

Max Verstappen's first win of the season in Austria was Honda's first victory in Formula 1 since Jenson Button won in Hungary in 2006, as the Japanese manufacturers have really started to kick on in the sport once again.

Two race victories and countless podiums has seen major improvements on one side of the garage.

Verstappen has hit new heights this season with the Dutchman the closest challenger to the virtually unstoppable Mercedes, clinching victory in Austria and Germany, alongside his first ever pole in Hungary.

The same success cannot be said for Pierre Gasly, who after a nightmare first half to the season has lost his seat and will be reverting back to Toro Rosso.

An error plagued season, including a DNF in Germany and frequent midfield finishes, has been enough for Gasly's early dismissal.

He was outqualified in 11 of 12 races and only outscored the Dutchman in Britain after he was taken out by Sebastian Vettel through no fault of his own.

Alex Albon will be the beneficiary and will appear in the Red Bull for the first time in Belgium in what has been a whirlwind start to his F1 career.

With Gasly’s struggles, it begs the question, where could Red Bull be if they had kept Daniel Ricciardo? Above Ferrari? Maybe, but something needed to change.

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Tale of two drivers

Driver Standings:

Max Verstappen: 3rd (181pts)

Pierre Gasly: 6th (63pts)

Constructor standing: 3rd (244pts)

Having slightly improved on last seasons’ tally at this point in the season, the team will no doubt be satisfied with the state of the car which has proven to be neck and neck with Ferrari and seemingly the closest challenger to the Mercedes.

With Verstappen evidently squeezing everything out of the RB15, his progression and improvement is clear, and the team will do everything to keep the Dutchman on their books, as a world championship doesn’t seem a million miles away.

His battles with Charles Leclerc throughout the season, most notably the wheel-to-wheel fight in Austria, was a sight that will become all too familiar as the two are touted to fight for world championships for the foreseeable future.

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Rash decision or time for change?

Rash.

The gulf in lap times between the two teammates is consistently the most apparent on the grid, and the championship standings show a gulf of 118 points between the two Red Bull drivers, one that the team will see as unforgivable in a car that has been proven to win races this season.

It’s fair to say the Frenchman underwhelmed in the opening stages of this season, but you have to fear that Red Bull may have the same situation come around next season.

After only 12 races in F1, you feel this could be slightly too early in the blossoming career of young Albon, who remarkably only drove in the wet for the first time in an F1 car in Germany.

The bosses at Red Bull promised to stick rather than twist until the end of the season, but it is an opportunity that Albon cannot turn down.

"It has been a frustrating weekend for Pierre," said Christian Horner after the Hungarian Grand Prix.

"We need him to be racing Ferrari and Mercedes, and everything we can do to try to help him do that, we will do.

"The problem is he is not in the mix at all,” he said. "Not having two cars running at the front does hurt us, particularly in the constructors' championship.

"We have scored the same amount of points as Ferrari on a track where we should have taken more out of them."

After the team finally cracked and parted ways with the Frenchman in only his second season in the sport, they will be hoping Albon can prove his worth and take the opportunity that could see him as a permanent Red Bull driver for the 2020 season.

The Thai driver expected to spend this season in Formula E, but 18-months down the line after an impressive half season, finds himself partnering the most exciting prospect in F1, Max Verstappen.

Having clinched a remarkable podium in Germany, Daniil Kvyat will feel hard done by as it looked to be the Russian prepped to take the seat next season. Kvyat sits eleven points above Albon in the standings in his comeback season in F1.

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