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Christian Horner and Red Bull expect 2024 F1 field to 'converge' after record-breaking Max Verstappen season

Max Verstappen and Red Bull were utterly dominant in F1 2023; Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin are all looking to get closer next year after each challenging at different points in the season; watch the whole 2024 F1 season live on Sky Sports F1

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says his team are 'aiming for the stars', but admits they must be realistic in their expectations in 2024.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner expects the 2024 Formula 1 field to close up after his team's record-breaking campaign this year.

Max Verstappen won an unprecedented 19 races from 22 events, a winning percentage of 86 per cent, and Red Bull finished one-two in the Drivers' Championship for the first time.

The Milton Keynes-based team failed to win just one race, the Singapore Grand Prix which saw Carlos Sainz take victory, and Verstappen was often unchallenged on some weekends.

Since F1 introduced new ground effect regulations in 2022, Red Bull have won every championship and their dominance began in the middle of that season after Ferrari's early title challenge faded away.

Ferrari were the team closest to Red Bull at the end of 2023 but McLaren, Mercedes and Aston Martin also got close at various points across the year.

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner expects their rivals to be more competitive next season and insists his team cannot afford to stand still.

"Nobody stands still. We've got a great basis, so it's more evolution [of the car] than revolution. But I'm sure it's going to converge a bit next year, so we can't rest on our laurels," Horner told Sky Sports News at the Autosport Awards.

"They [competitors] are all great teams. McLaren's form at the back end of the season, Ferrari, Mercedes. Those big teams are going to be coming out all guns blazing next year."

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Wolff confirms 'completely new car' for Mercedes

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Karun Chandhok, Ted Kravitz and Bernie Collins discuss which drivers impressed the most this season beyond Max Verstappen.

Mercedes finished runners-up to Red Bull in the Constructors' Championship but went winless in a season for the first time since 2011.

Lewis Hamilton hasn't won since December 2021 at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and played down his chances to challenge for the title next year.

There was a glimmer of hope for Mercedes when Hamilton took pole position in Hungary and showed strong pace in the second half of the season but Toto Wolff feels his team have a big deficit to close.

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Ted Kravitz, Bernie Collins and Karun Chandhok look back at their favourite races of the season.

"A new season starts with a completely new car, and that gives opportunities but also risks," said Wolff.

"I think we've got to be realistic. We are aiming for the stars, but we finished only second against a team who was outperforming everybody else.

"I've always said this is a meritocracy and the best driver and car wins. Therefore, we have to get our act together, and I hope it's us [to put Red Bull under pressure]."

What are McLaren's chances?

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McLaren boss Zak Brown is hoping for a strong start to the new season as they aim to narrow the gap on the Red Bulls in 2024.

McLaren made remarkable progress throughout 2023 after starting the season as one of the worst cars in terms of pace at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

A big upgrade ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix in July saw them leap up the pecking order and Lando Norris led the early stages of the British GP on home soil at Silverstone.

Norris' four consecutive podiums and Oscar Piastri's Sprint win in Qatar have given McLaren plenty of hope to continue their upward curve into 2024.

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Relive the 10 most dramatic crashes from this year's Formula One season.

"We hope to start the season where we finished off. It'll be interesting to see where everybody starts next year, but we're feeling good about our development," said McLaren CEO Zak Brown.

"I think we learned a lot this year, so I anticipate a much stronger start to 2024 than we had in 2023."

Piastri's impressive rookie campaign and Norris' consistency has made McLaren a genuine force again for the first time in over a decade.

Brown thinks the team have a driver pairing which can challenge for the title.

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Ted Kravitz and Karun Chandhok discuss Max Verstappen's dominance of the 2023 F1 season.

"I think he [Oscar Piastri] already is [challenging Lando Norris], which is great to have the driver line-up that we have," Brown said.

"We look at what we need to be a world championship team again, you need to have two great drivers, and we're comfortable we can tick that box.

"It's weird, on Max's [Verstappen] level, there's never been a less competitive season, but behind Max, there's never been a more competitive season. The grid was unbelievably close.

"We had five teams with seven or more podiums, which is a record. So there was one car which was uncompetitive with the rest of the field, and the rest of the field is unbelievably competitive. I'm not worried about that."

24 races in 2024! Watch every round of next season live on Sky Sports F1, starting with the Bahrain Grand Prix from February 29-March 2. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW

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