Brought to you by TJ13 Editor in Chief, Andrew Huntley-Jacobs
Christian Horner has given his views on how the Big Bull team performed in Jerez on the Red Bull racing website.
Q: Let’s talk first about the most visibly new aspect of the RB11 – the ‘dazzle’ livery. Are you a fan?
CH: Definitely. The camouflage livery worked very well. It’s quite a striking design and not only did it attempt to disguise some of the shapes and innovations on RB11, it generated quite a bit of interest as well, which is great.
Mmm. TJ13 still believes the livery was designed more to hide what was not there. As noted in our reveal of the Red Bull livery 2 days before the car hit the circuit in Jerez, we noted that this kind of livery is useful for hiding shapes and designs from the odd long lens shot over a wall at a testing venue for road car manufacturers – however, in Jerez there were thousands of pictures taken of the latest Red Bull offering.
The F1 tech analysts have failed to offer much other than differences in the sidepods, air flow through the wheels and the obvious nose design change.
Maybe it is because there is little more to see.
Q: News travels pretty fast in F1. Is it a testament to the guys working on the build that it was all kept under wraps?
CH: Yes, absolutely. There were so many bits of the car going around the factory in its livery and the whole factory did a great job in keeping close ranks and keeping that information from coming out. It was nice to spring a bit of a surprise.
TJ13 had knowledge of the “Zeb-Bull” over a week prior to the start of the test, though for confidentiality reasons felt it best to not reveal it too soon.
Q: Moving on to the action on track. How would you assess the car’s performance at this first test?
A: It was a lot more positive than last year. Yes, we had issues but they were not major ones compared to the fundamental problems we had last year, with the car not running cleanly or overheating or simply setting itself on fire! Yes, we had a few niggling issues but this was much more of a standard pre-season test than the one we experienced 12 months ago.
In absolute terms, Horner is correct. 22 laps in Jerez 2014 vs 165 laps in 2015 is a vast improvement. Yet once again, Red Bull had by far the worst of the Renault running, just as they did in 2013.
This in part was due to the fact they left it so late to crash test a legal 2015 nose, which meant when Danny Kvyat trashed it on Monday, the second one was just about being completed in Milton Keynes.
Red Bull had similar part shortages in 2014. Following the Barcelona race and test, Sebastian Vettel raced in Monaco with a patched up gearbox as the next one in production would only be ready several days following the race in the principality.
Further, mention has been made of the restricted running in Jerez being in part due to Renault issuing a caution due to a ‘faulty shaft’. Yet Toro Rosso did more than double the mileage of the Big Bulls and both drivers for the Faenza based team were quicker than either of the Dans.
Ricciardo was just 12th quickest and Kvyat 14th.
More remarkable was the fact that Daniel Ricciardo set the Red Bull team’s fastest time in Jerez on day 1. Each of the other teams went quickest on either day 3 or day 4, which is to be expected.
This may well indicate the Red Bull has issues beyond Renault’s responsibility as Toro Rosso were not similarly hampered in either number of laps nor in being able to increase their pace over the course of the test.
Formula One is a sport which requires 100% commitment – 100% of the time, and questions will linger whether the team from Milton Keynes is dropping the ball.
With Adrian Newey no longer full time on the Formula One project and his natural successor Peter Prodromou having been poached by McLaren – are the wheels about to fall off one of the most successful and efficient F1 outfits of the modern era?
After Barcelona we shall know more