Red Bull leapt from the midfield to the sharp end in 2009. Can they go one step further in 2010?
Red Bull missed the first week’s testing while Adrian Newey put the finishing touches to the RB6. The team were the pace setters at the end of 2009 and he believed spending more time getting the design fundamentals right was more important than going to the first test in Valencia.
Other teams’ designers took a cue from the high nose of Newey’s 2009 car but none of them attempted to replicate the tightly packaged rear bodywork and pullrod suspension arrangement which made the RB5 distinctive.
Newey has persevered with the approach on his 2010 car while also making room for the double diffuser and enlarged fuel tank. But having chosen to miss three days’ testing, and lost more time because of rain at the later tests, Red Bull have put less than 5,000km on their car while the likes of Ferrari have managed more than 7,000.
In the final races of 2009 Sebastian Vettel was often the fastest man on the track. Unfortunately too many mistakes early in the season compounded later by unreliability scuppered his title chances.
But he clearly improved throughout the season and is maturing into a more complete driver. In his second season at Red Bull he will be a championship contender if the car is up to the task.
In a recent interview Mark Webber mentioned he was still not back at full fitness after breaking his leg prior to last season.
He’ll need every ounce of strength to stay on terms with Vettel. As Webber’s contract only runs to the end of this year, and Red Bull’s rally team recently took Kimi Raikkonen on board, some people are already putting two and two together and claiming Raikkonen will partner Vettel next year.
It’s far too early to say that with any confidence, but it will surely be preying on Webber’s mind this year.
Obviously, big things are expected from the RB6’s performance. By the end of last year its predecessor had developed from being a car that was particularly suited to aerodynamically demanding tracks to one that was just at home around Abu Dhabi’s slow, tight bends.
Red Bull are also one of few teams to enjoy stability in their driver line-up.
Although they tried (and failed) to switch engine suppliers to Mercedes over the winter, their Renault units might have one thing going for them.
Last year their fuel consumption figures were lower than their rivals, which could be a boon now the cars have to carry all their fuel with them from the start of a race.
Unfortunately the Renault engine proved lacking in another key area: power.
All the engine manufacturers will have been doing what they can within the engine freeze restrictions to improve economy without compromising output but Renault have lagged behind with this kind of development since the freeze was introduced.
Reliability was also a problem for the team last year, which often manifested itself in engine failures. These are the main areas the team needs to make progress in to finish one position in 2010 than they did last year.
Poll: championship position
How will Red Bull get on this year? Pick where you think they’ll finish in the championship below.
Where will Red Bull finish in the 2010 Constructors' Championship?
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- 5th (2%)
- 4th (19%)
- 3rd (32%)
- 2nd (25%)
- 1st (20%)
Total Voters: 1,412
See all the articles in the F1 Fanatic 2010 Season Preview
2010 F1 season