#F1: Are Red Bull in real trouble?

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.

untitledThis 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.

untitledA trawl of the recent years Jerez test times reveal for a front running team, this is unprecedented.

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


13 responses to “#F1: Are Red Bull in real trouble?

  1. 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?

    Hopefully Red Bull Racing is not utterly dependent on any one or two people for its success. Otherwise that would be a major organizational failure and should spell the end of Horner as boss.

    Don’t hundreds of people work for that team?

    Even Newey is replaceable, given the evolution of F1 to an engine formula…(or not?)

  2. Not only Newey and Prodromou, but so too Vettel. The championship-winning team seems to be disintegrating, and chances are the outcome may be similar to Ferrari post-Schumacher…

  3. I find myself in a dilemma here, both redbull drivers seem hugely likable and quite honourable, on the flip side their boss is neither honourable or likeable, he makes a politician seem honest and trust worthy. In the 25 years odd years i’ve been watching F1, i’ve never wanted to see a team fall on its arse as i do Redbull, but i’d like to see the drivers do well.

  4. This seems like déjà vu all over again for Redbull. If memory serves me correctly, sister team Torro Rosso was able to do far more running last year and didn’t encounter the same amount of problems.

    So it seems the only explanation for their limited running, was due to each team running a different specification of the PU.

      • But wouldn’t the packaging affect the cooling system and other areas? surely a ‘drive shaft’ issue isn’t down to packaging. I read somewhere yesterday that the problem was with the ERS and Renault claimed that it has now been fixed.

        • The point I think that is being made is that Red Bull relative to Torro Rosso were slower, didn’t progress in terms of lap times from day one and ran less than half of the laps the little bulls managed.

  5. Overreacting on tj part. too much speculation for now. remember who was fastest in recent years in jerez and testing in general and who then actually won races during the season.

    • There is a difference with last year and that is that now of all the 2nd year engine running teams it’s mainly Red Bull having problems (Lotus haven’t been running too smoothly either but not as problematic as Red Bull). If like last year more teams were still having problems it wouldn’t be noteworthy but now it could indeed indicate there is something up, but nothing is certain until Melbourne. For all we know the Barcelona test update fixes most problems…

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