2011 Season: Red Bull preview

(L to R): Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal; Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing; Adrian Newey (GBR) Red Bull Racing Chief Technical Officer and Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing with the new Red Bull Racing RB7. Formula One Testing, Day 1, Valencia, Spain, Tuesday 1 February 2011.

Christian Horner, Sebastian Vettel, Adrian Newey and Mark Webber

Mar.19 (Daniel Chalmers) The energy drinks team and drivers look ahead to the opening weekend of the 2011 Formula 1 World Championship, the Australian Grand Prix, at Albert Park in Melbourne starting on friday 25 March.

Race Debut: Australia 2005
Base: Milton Keynes
Team owner: Dietrich Mateschitz
Team Prinicipal: Christian Horner
Consultant Helmut Marko
Chief Technical officer: Adrian Newey
Head of Aerodynamics: Peter Prodromou
Race starts: 107
Championships: 2
Race victories: 15
Pole Positions: 20
Fastest laps: 12
Points: 754.5
Podiums: 39
Races led: 28
Strength: Adrian Newey

Weakness: Despite ability to build fast cars the team’s inexperience often lets them down on race weekends

With genius Adrian Newey still at the team and continued support from Mateschitz Red Bull naturally begin 2011 as favourites to defend their title.

The RB6 was the class of the field in 2010, and goes on the list of Adrian Newey’s most successful creations, with key elements such as the pull rod suspension and blown diffuser.

The car’s performances at Spain and Hungary in particularly were very impressive. In Hungary it was 1.2 seconds faster than its nearest rival.

Newey has now won championships with three different teams (Williams, McLaren and Red Bull), and has won over 100 races in the sport. Statistically he is the most successful man in F1 history.

Out of everyone in the F1 paddock including the drivers, team bosses, technical directors Newey is the man every team wants to have on their side.

However whilst you can be sure Red Bull will have a quick car again in 2011 there are areas where they need to improve to aid their title defence.

On many occasions last year it looked like Red Bull were doing everything they could to try and lose the championship. There were reliability issues when Sebastien Vettel was leading in Bahrain, Australia and Korea.

Then they had incidents like the one in Turkey where Vettel and Mark Webber crashed into each other, and threw away a 1-2 finish.

The only reason 2010 appeared to be competitive was because Red Bull were making life hard for themselves. In reality 2010 should have been a dull season like 2002 and 2004 when Ferrari dominated.

However as Red Bull tended to always have the fastest car, they were always bound to win enough races to be champions so got away with all those shortcomings.

During Barcelona testing they definitely looked to have the edge over their rivals. Crucially though, the gap between the team and their nearest rivals looks to have been reduced.

In qualifying though it looks like Red Bull have kept most of their advantage. Vettel did a very quick 1:21.8 with at least five laps of fuel on board, but possibly more.

The key area where Red Bull will have an advantage over a single lap is in the adjustable rear wing. In qualifying you can use it as often as you wish. The RB7 seems to be able to use the wing, where other cars simply can’t, therefore gaining time over them.

Over a race distance Red Bull will definitely have a tougher battle on their hands, certainly with Ferrari at least. That’s why it’s important they make fewer mistakes, and avoid throwing away cheap points, as it will cost them dearly if it’s closer at the front of the field.

On the reliability front at least it definitely looks as if the team have taken a big step forward. They have completed over 6000km worth of testing, and had their new car ready straight away at the first test, unlike last year.

Once again the Renault engine will be a concern. As engine development remains frozen the performance deficit to the Mercedes and Ferrari power plants remains the same.

It will also be interesting to see how the team cope with KERs for the first time, since their main rivals all have experience of the system, and will have developed them further since 2009.

On KERs and engine tracks Red Bull could well fall back slightly.

Team ratings:
Engine: 8
Drivers: 8
Aerodynamics: 10
Mechanical grip: 9
Reliability: 9
Pit Wall: 7
Total: 51/60

Prediction: I am sure Red Bull will be winning races in 2011. Although on the evidence of errors made last season I wouldn’t back them to win the title if their car isn’t dominant.

Constructors Championship prediction: 2nd

Compiled by Daniel Chalmers