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F1 chief claims shock team can rival Mercedes and Red Bull in 2024

F1 chief claims shock team can rival Mercedes and Red Bull in 2024

F1 chief claims shock team can rival Mercedes and Red Bull in 2024

F1 chief claims shock team can rival Mercedes and Red Bull in 2024

Sauber F1's technical director, James Key, has claimed that an 'immensely tight grid' will give the team confidence heading into the 2024 season – admitting that very little separates them from the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull.

Alfa Romeo, who will race under a brand new name next year, ended 2023 ninth in the constructors' championship, just four points clear of Haas in 10th.

Although all eyes are on 2026 and the arrival of Audi, Key believes that there is plenty of reason for the team to be optimistic next season.

READ MORE: VOTE: Who was the best non-champion driver in 2023?

The former McLaren man stressed the importance of marginal gains and how small improvements can make a serious impact on the season's outcome.

2023 proved to be a difficult season for Alfa Romeo
Zhou Guanyu (L) and Valtteri Bottas (R) will continue with the team next season

Immensely tight F1 grid

“It's an immensely tight grid,” Key said (via Autosport). "Unless you really track the numbers it's not obvious from outside, because the pecking order is still similar.

"But if you look at the lap times, 1.5 per cent overall, it means we're all at 98.5 per cent of the quickest car. And sometimes it's less than that.

“I won't bang on about this, but if you look at an overlay between let's say, us and Mercedes or Red Bull, it's just a few corners, a little bit of braking or something.

Audi are set to enter F1 in 2026

“It's not like this massive difference you used to see with a car that was in sort of P8/P9 position, compared to a car which is in P1/P2. The difference was very stark just a few years ago, now it's incredibly close.

“So that suggests if we get everything right, both at the track and at the factory in our decisions on development, decisions on the car, then there's plenty more opportunity there.

“Everyone's in the same boat. But there's no reason to believe we are stuck in this position at all, I believe we can definitely move further forward.

“And if you look at that band of, I guess it's P5/6 at the moment really down to P10, it's immensely close. In that respect there's every reason to be optimistic that we can go further forward."

READ MORE: VOTE: Who was the most improved team in 2023?

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