Formula 1 grid already thinks title is Verstappen's - Alonso

Hamilton reflects on 'emotional' last launch with Mercedes (0:41)

Lewis Hamilton says it's been an emotional and surreal experience as he prepares for his final year with Mercedes before moving to Ferrari in 2025. (0:41)

BAHRAIN -- Max Verstappen's rivals already know he will be world champion in 2024 according to Fernando Alonso, who said Red Bull's current superiority perfectly sums up the "brutal" nature of Formula One.

Verstappen won a record 18 grand prix victories in 2023 to claim a third straight championship.

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Overall, Red Bull won 21 out of 22 races, and the consensus at preseason testing is they have taken another step forward with their new car.

Alonso is perhaps one of the great examples of how F1 operates in eras and how drivers must both have the talent to win a title and find themselves in the right place at the right time.

Alonso won the championship in 2005 and 2006 and is considered one of the best drivers on the grid, but his last grand prix win came in 2013.

"I don't have a crystal ball to know what the others are doing," Alonso said.

"Max is the world champion and Red Bull is dominating the sport. Also, the concept that they presented this year, it's also a surprise.

"At the moment, we just have to watch them and see how they perform. I think 19 drivers in the paddock now will think that [they] will not win the championship.

"It happens 99% of the time in your career. This is a brutal sport."

On Friday, reigning world champion Max Verstappen said his new Red Bull car has taken a clear step forward from last year.

The final day of testing should give an indication of how far ahead Red Bull are -- estimates by rival teams in the paddock place the advantage around half a second per lap, a considerable margin in modern F1

Before Red Bull's streak, Lewis Hamilton won six championships with Mercedes between 2014 and 2020, with former teammate Nico Rosberg winning the other in 2016.

Red Bull had dominated the era before that, with Sebastian Vettel winning four straight championships.