Formula 1: The major Red Bull lie that Baku exposed

Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) /

The idea that Red Bull had been sandbagging to start the 2023 Formula 1 season was proven wrong in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Red Bull have had a dream start to the 2023 Formula 1 season, winning each of the season’s first four races and securing three 1-2 finishes along the way.

Thanks to the added sprint race in Azerbaijan, they are averaging 45 points per race weekend. For context, the maximum point total for a team over a normal weekend is 44.

Two-time reigning world champion Max Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez have each won twice, with the latter holding off the reigning Baku winner to become the first driver to win twice at the 20-turn, 3.73-mile (6.003-kilometer) temporary street circuit at Azadliq Square.

Verstappen has more points than any other constructor on the grid, while Perez sits tied with second place constructor Aston Martin.

The gap between the two drivers in the Formula 1 standings is six points heading into the second annual Miami Grand Prix.

While Perez’s win in Baku served as an indicator to many that he is much closer to competing for the world championship than he was in his first two seasons with Red Bull, it also marked an abrupt end to a silly rumor being spread about Red Bull by some.

Most notably, Mercedes’ George Russell had stated that Red Bull were sandbagging because they felt “embarrassed” to be as far ahead of everyone else as they were.

Chirping from that particular team’s garage is nothing that the Milton Keynes-based team haven’t dealt with — and mostly ignored — before, but for those taking it seriously, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix showed it’s time to get back to the real world.

Red Bull are far from “embarrassed” to show up the rest of the Formula 1 grid.

When Verstappen is ahead of Perez, there is an idea among a misled contingent of fans that Perez isn’t allowed to challenge his teammate, even though Perez himself has shot that down a number of times and even accused certain individuals of “making up stories”.

This time, it was Perez ahead of Verstappen for the majority — and most importantly, the conclusion — of the 51-lap race, mitigating the always-present desire for conspiracy theories.

Both drivers were clearly pushing throughout the entire event — do you really think Verstappen wanted to settle for second place? — and yet the gap to third and fourth place wasn’t all that different than it usually is.

Perez beat Verstappen to the line by 2.137 seconds. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc placed third, 21.217 seconds back, with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso finished 22.024 seconds behind.

Aside from the safety car finish in Melbourne, it marked the closest spread between the top four in the 2023 Formula 1 season.

While some of that can surely be attributed to the fact that it wasn’t a typical Verstappen-dominated race, the plan and simple fact is that neither one of the two RB19s was being driven by a driver giving any less than 100% throughout the event.

Next. All-time Formula 1 wins list. dark

There is clearly no sandbagging when it comes to this year’s reigning world constructor champions. The sound bites insinuating otherwise sure do make the rounds, though.