Damon Hill raises Red Bull concern that may fool Toto Wolff

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Former F1 world champion Damon Hill believes that Red Bull could lull their rivals into a false sense of security in the latter stages of the 2023 season. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is on a mission to close the gap on the team’s bitter rivals, and while he has been tipped to succeed before the end of the year, Red Bull may have another trick up their sleeve.

Buoyed by the victories of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, Red Bull have already built up a commanding lead in this season’s Constructors’ Championship. Hill believes that the competition is already ‘done and dusted’, which they could use to their advantage as the year progresses.

The 1996 world champion has theorised that Red Bull could divert their spending towards next year’s car sooner than their competitors, therefore allowing the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston Martin to close the gap on purpose at the end of the season. 

Doing so may convince Wolff and his Silvers Arrows team that Red Bull are within touching distance, only for Verstappen to be equipped with another vastly superior car in 2024.

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“[Red Bull] have pretty much got the championship done and dusted but they need to split the resources, make sure they don’t overspend and think about next year,” Hill told the F1 Nation podcast.

“There’s nothing in the cost cap that says the money you spend this season has to be spent on this year’s car, as far as I’m aware. So they may decide to sacrifice victories towards the end of the season in favour of investing in next year’s car.

“It may be that the others push and spend all of their resources, unwisely, on trying to beat Red Bull at the end of the season. That’s another fascinating dimension to this new era – we don’t know how it’s going to pan out.”

Red Bull have to tread carefully when it comes to the cost cap, which was introduced by the FIA in 2021 to limit the amount of money a team can spent in a calendar year. Christian Horner and co were hit with a hefty fine and a reduction in wind tunnel time for breaching the limit in their 2021 accounts.

The punishments don’t appear to have hampered their performances this season, however, with Verstappen and Perez winning all three Grands Prix between them. Some expect their dominance to subside once the cost cap penalties take effect.

Surprisingly for many, Aston Martin are currently best-placed to pounce on a Red Bull capitulation, with Fernando Alonso notching three podiums from as many races in 2023, leaving them nine points ahead of Mercedes.

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