Red Bull struggling or sandbagging as Melbourne looms large

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel gets onto the gravel during Barcelona testing

As the sun set on the final day of pre-season testing late on Sunday in Barcelona, the teams everyone were talking were Mercedes and Red Bull and for very different reasons.

“Everyone is saying that this Mercedes is fast. Consistently fast,” said respected Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt.

Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko added: “(It is fast) at least on one lap. But at least we do have to take them really seriously.”

McLaren sporting director Sam Michael agrees: “Hamilton and Rosberg have been quick in all circumstances.”

On the other hand, there are now questions being asked about the pace of world champions Red Bull’s new RB9, after a difficult last weekend of testing in Barcelona.

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel keeping an eye on proceedings

New haircut aside, Sebastian Vettel did not look entirely cool.

“It has been extremely difficult to assess some changes and find the right direction with the car, simply because the tyres have not been good enough,” he is quoted by Brazil’s O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper.

Teammate Mark Webber added: “We need another couple of weeks of testing, but we don’t have it.”

German Vettel continued: “The new parts are not working exactly the way we had hoped.”

Some paddock insiders suspect Red Bull, now less than a fortnight before Melbourne, is bluffing.

“They have hidden their game the whole time,” thinks Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.

Nico Rosberg added: “I am convinced some of our opponents have been bluffing.”

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel speaks to media after a day of testing in Barcelona

But even Red Bull team owner Dietrich Mateschitz sounds concerned: “I think the tyres are making everyone a bit worried,” said the billionaire.

Right-hand man Marko added: “Not everything has gone to plan, but now is the time to analyse the data.”

Speed Week’s technical expert Gary Anderson said: “I still think the best car is the Red Bull, but the Mercedes has left a great impression, and I also see Lotus at the front, even though they have had problems with reliability.

“About McLaren, I’m not so sure,” he added.

What about Ferrari? As his test duties ended, Fernando Alonso said the F138 is “200 times” better than last year’s red car.

Are the world champions in trouble?

Are the world champions in trouble?

Team test driver Marc Gene told Marca newspaper: “There are several teams that can win races. I know Fernando is happy with the car.

“I did a filming day and it has more grip. We are where we imagined, but we do not know about the others.”

After recovering from apparent food poisoning, Kimi Raikkonen closed his winter by saying he doesn’t expect the 2013 pecking-order to be much different to last year’s.

Asked if he could have matched Rosberg’s winter-best Barcelona time, he smiled to the Finnish broadcaster MTV3: “It would have been close.”

Agreed McLaren’s sporting director Sam Michael: “From the laptimes we’ve seen, the season is going to be incredibly close.” (GMM)

  • Hawk

    Childish games.

  • JuniorJohnson

    I am so sure that Cristian Horner is sandbagging the Red Bulls.He’s probly built some incredbile triple DDRS device or something with Adrian Newey.Once we get to the first race Horner is going to put it on the Red Bulls and theyre going to go fast.Horners always been good at tuning the cars right.He’s like a mad genius Im sure he’s probly working away at the factory now designing some crazy new devices.He always knows too how to stall different parts of the car.
    If i was Vettel Id be very happy knowing Im going to be driving a car built by Horner and Newey.

  • JuniorJohnson

    Horner and Newey is like the new Ross and Raury Burns and Vettel is like the new Schumacher also Red Bull is like the new Feraris’

  • JuniorJohnson

    Also look at Vettels face in the second picture.Its like he knows he can win again but it doesnt really want to smile so people can easily see.He’s going like yes its all going to the plan or even something like I know Horner is building something nice for this car but I’m not going to smile or everyone else will know too.This is the kind of face I use too when Im thinking about things like this too

  • Sush

    Hiding or bluffing or sandbagging…. whatever we call… but any development need some testing and tuning… are they really doing it purposefully or its an serious issue…

    I can trust adrian that he can pull any miracle out of any car for sure…. he is the best.. But still i can put my bet on Mecr ,,, they are really looking good.

  • zerof50

    Of course red Puke are lying, after 5 years why stop lying now?

  • Coll

    “Red Bull struggling or sandbagging” most likely, probably…. What an title of the article LOL!!!

  • Kamen

    If you’ve seen the tests you could see that the RB is fuel heavy … so if you take away the 60 extra kilo they are caring they would’ve easily match Hamilton/Rosberg’s time and so is Lotus … on the heavy fuel Merc’s slower by half a sec …..

  • Tamburello_1994

    A classic “nothing-burger” article.

    Nothing to see here folks.

  • Elfredore

    @zerof50, Grow up. What did they lie about? Have they been dq’d? No. Unlike McLosers (aka The most dishonest team in F1 history) Red Bull don’t have to steal another teams car to be successful.

    The best Designer, Driver and a bottomless bucket of money is all they need to dominate yet another season. Go Seb!!

  • Sean

    Have I just stumbled across the F1 newbies forum … chr1st almighty … its hard to believe from most of the comments that the vast majority of you have ever watched an F1 race …

    Mercedes have run nothing more than a sponsor event, knowing that this is probably the most TV coverage they will get all season … also wont harm the marketing push for a few more … will it?

    Now get real, Mercedes have not found the 1.2 – 1.5 second deficit that they finished by last season, and there is absolutely no way that they have out developed RedBull, Ferrari, McLaren or even Lotus for that matter, dare I say FIF1 too …

    Wake up lads …

  • Riggs

    @Sean
    Well said man, well said. Considering that the rules didn’t change at all for this season it’s absolutely ridiculous to think that Merc has suddenly made an almost 2 second leap over just a couple of months LOL! Those people are real dreamers and dimwits who believe that this will be Merc’s true speed. Wake up and smell the coffee people!

  • fools

    What about Ferrari? As his test duties ended, Fernando Alonso said the F138 is “200 times” better than last year’s red car.
    —————————————————————————-

    uh ohh…:)
    .

  • Senna one

    Lol. They weren’t taking merc seriously before so now they’re seriously considering them. Haha. Seb’s haircut is funny just like the Schumeister’s hair before. The Schumeister heir apparent is still the man to beat!

  • PistoneRovente

    @juniorjohnson

    ehmmm, Cristion Horner build an incredible device?? I’m sure that you mean Adrian Newey, boy. And the name is Rory Byrne. By the way, Red Bull won’ t ever be considered the new Ferrari, because for that to happen Ferrari should have left the F1 circus… and we all know that Ferrari IS Formula 1. Cheers

  • Butterfly

    Ferrari are going to surprise people in Melbourne…

  • Mark

    buttsecs:

    yeah… it would be really surprising to see a Ferrari winning something after 6 years.

  • Torque

    @Riggs, From what I saw last season Merc gave up long before everyone else and put their resources towards 2013, so it’s probably like 6 months to develop this car with most of the resources they have devoted to it, they certainly weren’t improving the ’12 car in the latter half last year, so they could have made up the difference to their rivals, at least over 1 lap. Whether they improved the tire deg is another story.

    I think RB were sandbagging all last year and just turned it on in the last 1/4 of the season to make it interesting for the fans and also to not have a new anti-Schumacher style rule imposed to slow them down cause they were winning too much and too early in the season.

  • fools

    if that is true then Ferrari have been sandbagging for some years lol :)

  • Haasman

    This is a team that has made a multi-year world champion, and yet Vettle’s teammate Webber struggles to place on the podium.

    Of course they are bluffing. Their boy is Vettle but they need another driver who handles the brand and press well.

    If they wanted they could have both Red Bull teammates fighting against each other, every race.

    Vettle is good, but he isn’t that good.

  • Nemo

    What’s a Struggline?

  • Nowhereman

    Yawn….
    Just wait another week or two.
    It will be a dog fight for the pole but, the pole means nothing anymore.
    Alonso will win with Massa right behind.

  • Eevel

    I think they were most likely just running with heavy fuel loads and not too bothered about setting fast times as you don’t get points from testing.

    It’s impossible to say who has the best car right now – despite a superficial similarity Mercedes’ challenger is quite different from last years and it’s not inconceivable to think that they’ve identified and got rid of the core problems that were plaguing the W02 and that they have a fast car on their hands for this season.
    As Torque said they most probably started developing this years car very early.

    Whatever the case, I’m sure the field is going to be incredibly close this year with multiple cars/drivers capable of taking a win.

    @JuniorJohnson
    Lol! :D
    How did you manage to work out the captcha code?

  • Butterfly

    Mark the F@G:

    You really need to stop doing that. Seriously.

  • Butterfly

    Oh, boy, Alonso is gonna walk this one.

  • Mark

    buttsecs:

    you just said “Ferrari is gonna surprise this year” I said “it would be surprising to actually see them winning something after 5 years or so with the spaintard” dat hurt? go cry to your mama.