Red Bull rubs it in but Perez provides a Saudi surprise

At the 2004 Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello were delayed early on, the German by a spin on the first lap that left him 15th, and the Brazilian with a poor tyre choice in the mixed conditions that necessitated a pitstop. The duo then proceeded to unleash the true performance of their dominant F2004s, setting fastest laps more than a second quicker than the rest, and had restored normal 1-2 service by the end of lap 43 of 53.

Red Bull’s raw race pace advantage is not yet as big as that enjoyed by Ferrari in 2004, when the red team won 15 of the 18 races, but there was a similar feeling of inevitability when Max Verstappen lined up 15th on the grid in Saudi Arabia last weekend. A combination of the RB19’s latent speed, the long Jeddah straights and powerful DRS meant that the double world champion could a°ord to be cautious at the start yet still easily overcome all the non-Red Bulls ahead.

What was less predictable was Sergio Perez’s stern refusal to give in as he scored perhaps his finest victory. One factor that made some previous eras of domination entertaining was battles between teammates – think McLaren in 1988-89 or Mercedes in 2014-16. Alex Kalinauckas takes a look at the chances of Perez taking the fight to Verstappen on page 15, while our new F1 writer Jake Boxall-Legge explains how the race unfolded in our in-depth report from p16.

Far more surprising were events at Sebring, which included a shock Ferrari debut pole and an extraordinary late accident that decided the 12 Hours. Our reports start on p32 and p40.

Kevin Turner Chief Editor


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Cover image

Lars Baron/Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool


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