Red Bull’s winning machine hit new heights in 2013

2013 F1 season review

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In the opening rounds of 2013 it seemed as if Red Bull were going to face much stronger opposition from their rivals.

Sebastian Vettel may have lined up on pole position for the first race of the year but he slipped to third at the chequered flag as his Red Bull RB9 asked too much of Pirelli’s super soft and medium tyre combination.

Although he won in Malaysia it was on a day when his rivals were compromised: Fernando Alonso crashed out and Kimi Raikkonen was delayed by front wing damage. Alonso’s romp to victory in China, while Vettel started on the harder tyres as Red Bull continued to grapple with the new-generation Pirellis, seemed a further indication Vettel wouldn’t have an easy title defence.

Red Bull believed some of their rivals had lucked in to producing cars that worked well on the latest Pirelli product and were not shy about criticising the fragility of the tyres. Following the Spanish Grand Prix, where Alonso won again, team principal Christian Horner commented that having to make four tyre stops per race was excessive.

Red Bull team stats 2013

Best race result (number)1 (13)
Best grid position (number) 1 (11)
Non-finishes (mechanical/other) 4 (3/1)
Laps completed (% of total) 2,169 (95.55%)
Laps led (% of total) 753 (66.34%)
Championship position (2012)1 (1)
Championship points (2012)596 (460)
Pit stop performance ranking1

“Red Bull are pushing to make a change and if we do something that helps them you can understand that Lotus and Ferrari won’t be happy,” responded Pirelli motorsport Paul Hembery. “You can imagine, though, if we make a change, that it might be seen that we’re making tyres for Red Bull in particular.”

By the Canadian Grand Prix it seemed Red Bull had sussed the tyres. Vettel took a commanding third win of the year on a track the team had previously failed to conquer. And then came the season’s great turning point: with tyres exploding left, right and centre at Silverstone Pirelli finally conceded a change had to be made.

To begin it did not seem to be the case that a switch had been flipped and Red Bull were now unstoppable. Vettel had to use all of his skill to hold off the two Lotuses in Germany, and in Hungary Lewis Hamilton took pole and won.

In recent seasons we have become used to seeing Red Bull make greater development gains in the latter part of the season and so it was this year, only more so. Vettel got into his stride after the summer break, gutting the opposition in a manner F1 hasn’t seen the likes of since the days of Alberto Ascari. The two championships duly fell to him and the team in India, but realistically it was over long before then.

These fourth consecutive titles for team and driver underlined Red Bull’s mastery of the current generation of rules. had it not been for the ‘double diffuser’ controversy in 2009 it’s likely all five titles since the last major aerodynamics regulation change would have been won by the Milton Keynes team.

The RB9 was closely related to its similarly successful predecessors: chief technical officer Adrian Newey described it as “very close cousin of last year’s” car – the RB8.

“I would almost not call this a new car it was kind of a development of last year’s car made over the winter, ready for the start of this year,” he explained. “That’s what this year’s been all about, it’s been about taking that car, developing it, getting it to suit the drivers, Sebastian and Mark [Webber], to compliment their techniques and what they’d like out of the car. And also to suit the Pirellis.”

Red Bull have become a dominant force in recent seasons but as the current generation of rules comes to an end there are signs their says at the front of the field may be numbered.

Webber took another drubbing at the hands of Vettel – including a controversial run-in between the pair in Malaysia – and announced his decision to quit Formula One. He may have accounted for a smaller share of Red Bull’s success than his team mate but but his technical feedback has always been highly valued by Newey.

And several major technical figures are making their way to other teams, including Newey’s right-hand man Peter Prodromou. That and an overhaul of the regulations which could shift the onus of development from aerodynamics to powertrain could be the biggest threat yet to the Red Bull winning machine.

Red Bull drivers 2013 race results

Sebastian Vettel314142113111111111
Mark Webber62753427453152232

Red Bull’s 2013 season in pictures

2013 F1 season review

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Images © Red Bull/Getty

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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20 comments on “Red Bull’s winning machine hit new heights in 2013”

  1. Their dominance was awe-inspiring. Still, I think it would be great for everyone if someone else to take the reigns and let Vettel go to the Scuderia!

    1. @full-throttle-f1
      Yeah, it has been an impressive 4 titles for the milton keynes boys but why would you want SV at Ferrari?
      I´m a Ferrari fan and I for one have no desire to see SV in a red car! I much rather see him in a “silver arrow” or in a McLaren! It would suit him to go to his national team don´t you think?? It would make things a bit more interesting!

      1. Yeah, we get that lots of Ferrari fans don’t like Vettel — but I’m afraid that isn’t going to stop him from ending up there. You’re probably going to have to do a better job of convincing Montezemolo et al. that he isn’t worth hiring.

      2. I am a Ferrari fan and I want to see Seb in Red.

        Vettel has the ability to be at one with the team. He is a good humored lad who has a lot of respect for the sport’s past. He is extremely hard working and really likes it when the team puts all their efforts behind him.

        The passion of Scuderia merged with the calculated thinking of Vettel, it will be a brilliant winning machine. One that will make the fans happy.

        Not to say Alonso is not good. He is as good as Vettel (the balance shifts ever so slightly every year). And he is doing wonders in the Ferrari. But he is growing old. And there is only one driver on the grid who is a worthy successor to Alonso in a Ferrari – Sebastian Vettel.

        1. I don’t like you saying “worthy successor to Alonso”. SF might go with Hulk, with whom they have a good link, or Bianchi o whatever.
          While Seb might go to SF eventually (Yeah if wants to leave RB, there aren’t many other options really), I don’t think he is the only “worthy successor of Alonso.

          When Schuey was 32, Alonso was very young and so was Kimi. These guys turned out to be his successors. They were in their debut years when Michael was 32. Noone called them the next Ferrari #1 driver Until 2003 and 2005 seasons, when these two proved themselves. While Alonso signed for Macca in 2005 end, it would’ve been interestiing to see had he not signed up with McLaren, if Ferrari had picked Kimi or Fernando (maybe the situation had not arisen, its just hypothetical.)

          1. Ferrari don’t tend to “take risks” and hiring young and “unproven” drivers.
            Knowing Ferrari, Hulk and Bianchi would need to win championships elsewere before they would sign them. Something Vettel has already done.

            I would love to see Vettel with Ferrari. But, after what I witnessed in Montreal when I was in front of the podium – Ferrari fans booing him, I think the tifosis don’t deserve him. I would rather see him with Merc and winning championships there.

      3. For the first time, someone seems to agree with my sentiments @karter22
        Tifosi, forever.

    2. I would like to see Vettel at Mercedes with Hamilton, but I’m pretty sure he will be in red in 2016. Montezemolo wants it, Vettel I think wants it, so I see no reasons why it wouldn’t happen.

      Does that mean however Alonso will retire in two years or would he move teams? I doubt he’ll go up against Vettel as Ferrari I don’t see tolerating that.

      1. @vettel1

        I would like to see Vettel at Mercedes with Hamilton, but I’m pretty sure he will be in red in 2016. Montezemolo wants it, Vettel I think wants it, so I see no reasons why it wouldn’t happen.

        Does that mean however Alonso will retire in two years or would he move teams? I doubt he’ll go up against Vettel as Ferrari I don’t see tolerating that.

        Hmmmm, I might have to differ on you on that Max. Sure Vettel might get the best of ALO on saturdays but I think that with equal machinery, ALO would cream him on Sundays! Especially with cars like what ALO has had recently!!
        If there is someone ALO would love to go head to head just to prove he is better, I think it would be SV but, I too don´t see this happening, not because of ALO but because of Luca!

  2. The greatest height hit by a Red Bull car this year was the cracking publicity stunt with DC at the wheel on the helicopter pad of the Burl Al Arab hotel in Dubai.
    Ok. So maybe not this years car. But a great trick.

  3. Anyone surprised to see Red Bull 1st in the “Pit stop performance ranking”? Not so long ago Montezemolo said Ferrari had been the best team in that area in average.

    1. I think it’s being done on timings rather than on average (or consistency). Red Bull have had numerous sub-2.5 second pitstops, whereas Ferrari and the other teams have hardly had any..

      I’m presuming this means they outrank Ferrari in Keith’s opinion, although personally I’d look at the mistakes in China and Germany and have to consider it a bit longer.

  4. Red Bull’s performance this year was incredible, even if compared with Ferrari in 2004. I hope next year brings lots of surprises to F1 as it did 2009. But I also prefer that Mercedes, Ferrari, Lotus and even this team fight for the championship instead of struggling with the new rules.

  5. I don’t know why but I still think Red Bull as a team had a better year in 2011, they were dominating all year not just the second half, but is also true that Alonso and Hamilton disappointed a bit so who knows.

    1. I don’t think Alonso disappointed in 2011 to be fair. I think he was as good then as 2012 (just with a less competitive car), and much better than his 2013.

  6. During Vettel’s late season winning streak (and during his other winning streaks), I kept telling myself before each race that surely he cannot win again, surely the law of averages will put an end to his dominance. But no, no other team had an answer to his and Red Bull’s dominance and Vettel always did what was expected of him. When I thought his car may conk out or Vettel himself might make a mistake, it always turned out to be the same story, Vettel saw the chequered flag first.

    I admit that there are many times when I can’t help but think that I want to see someone else win, however I do consider myself lucky to be around to see Vettel and Red Bull’s achievements. I can’t I honestly say want to see their success continue, however if it does I will not complain, I will be glad that I am watching history in the making.

    1. @slr

      I feel your pain :-)

  7. The man, the car, the team. It really is something special. Although, for me it’s ruined the last few years.
    Here’s hoping to real competition between 3-4 teams. That’s what we need. If RBR have another beastly car, you know Champion Seb will bring it home, and for me that will probably end my years of being an F1 fan.

    What is a competition without competition?

  8. Look how flat Vettel’s finishing positions line is. Absolutely incredible consistency.

  9. @keithcollantaine how can RBR be ranked 1 in pit stop performance when in one of their pitstops they had a wheel come out the car within 10-15m from the pit. I don’t agree with it.

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