But they’re having to wait until later in 2008 to get their hands on the new car, even though Red Bull got the latest model earlier than they did in 2007.
Are Red Bull worried about being beaten by their junior team?
Maybe, maybe not: Toro Rosso were clearly compromised by how late they received the STR2 (aka RB3) before the start of last season. They’ll start this year with the interim STR2B, which Sebastian Vettel thinks might be an advantage:
I see it as a benefit to start the season with a car I know and that has overcome reliability issues in the last quarter of the ’07 season. Let’s wait and see if we are not doing better with proven material than many others in their brand new machines having to overcome teething problems.
Perhaps it’s a good job they have experience with the car because they have the least experienced (in F1 terms) driver line-up on the grid. Sebastien Bourdais may have four Champ Car titles but he’s new to F1 and history has shown drivers that come over from American racing have been either been a hit (Juan Pablo Montoya, Jacques Villeneuve) or a miss (Alessandro Zanardi, Michael Andretti).
Compared to Bourdais the younger Vettel is an F1 old hand, with all of eight Grand Prix starts to his name. This is going to be a particularly fascinating team mate battle – there are plenty of people who think either driver is going to hand out a beating to the other.
Red Bull’s devotion to Vettel shouldn’t be underestimated, though – he’s the only one of their junior drivers to be in either of their F1 teams now, and he was the one they put in the RB4 when David Coulthard couldn’t test last week. Owner Dietrich Mateschitz has a lot of faith in him:
Vettel is one of the young guys with extraordinary potential. He is fast, he is intelligent, and he is very interested in the technical side. He has everything it takes to become a big star. And he is back home now with us. His future looks brilliant.
The racing side of the team is solid: Vettel’s fourth place at Shanghai last year wasn’t simply down to an excellent drive by him: it was born of astute, opportunistic race strategy, the kind you need when competing against faster and equally reliable rivals.
Long term, Toro Rosso may find they face the same kind of uncertainty as Super Aguri. The current economic climate is not favourable towards running two Formula 1 teams, and despite their vast wealth even Red Bull may have to make some cuts. The cost effective option of running Toro Rosso as a customer team may not be available in the near future.
The RB4 has looked quick in testing, and if that potential can be translated when it becomes available to Toro Rosso as the STR3 then they can do well. But I don’t think they can keep pulling this same trick very long.
Photo copyright: Red Bull / GEPA
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