Red Bull RB11 final livery 2015

Red Bull rebuilding as dream team dissolves

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Red Bull RB11 final livery 2015

The team

On the face of it, this is a year of revolution at Red Bull. Star designer Adrian Newey has taken a step back, and the driver who did most of their winning over the last six years – Sebastian Vettel – has departed for Ferrari.

But Newey is not gone, merely reassigned. He has still played a significant role in the development of the RB11, watched over it during testing, and will attend some races this year – though not as many as before.

In his place Red Bull has appointed a four-man team to set the direction of their car’s development. But can this committee approach be an effective substitute for the mental agility of one of F1’s greatest designers?

And while Vettel may be a Ferrari man now, in Daniel Ricciardo the team already has an established race-winner who usually had the beating of the four-times champion last year.

But as doubts persist over Renault’s power unit, and with the still-unproven Daniil Kvyat in the second car, merely maintaining their second place in the constructors’ championship may be viewed as a success.

The drivers

3. Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2015The breakthrough star of 2014. There were three occasions when Mercedes left the door open for a rival to steal victory, and every time it was Ricciardo who got the job done.

He is now poised to inherit Vettel’s position as the foremost driver in a formidable team. But it’s possible that even if the RB11 is significantly closer to the W06 on performance, Ricciardo could be shut out of any victory chances if Mercedes simply play a tighter game.

26. Daniil Kvyat

Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2015In Toro Rosso’s ten-year existence as Red Bull’s kindergarten team, Kvyat is only the third driver to make the step up to the ‘big sister’ outfit. Expectations will be high: both Vettel and Ricciardo won races straight away.

While Kvyat’s promotion certainly owes a lot to Vettel’s career move – he was originally supposed to stay at Toro Rosso for another year – he had a very solid debut season which included becoming the youngest ever points scorer and qualifying a superb fifth for his home race.

The car

The RB11’s testing camouflage could not disguise its performance traits which is in line of what we’ve come to expect from this team: impressive cornering but a notable straight-line speed deficit.

How much of the latter is down to a surfeit of downforce and therefore drag, and how much of it is a consequence of Renault not having sussed the engine regulations yet will go a long way towards determining how competitive a season they enjoy.

Significantly, former Ilmor engine designer Mario Illen has been roped in at Renault to apply his expertise to the weakest part of this package. The lack of power is just one dimension of Renault’s shortcomings: they have already admitted they are not on top of the drive-ability problems which plagues them last year.

Reliability is another concern, one which has already reared its head during testing. Team principal Christian Horner has never been shy about pointing the finger when he believed Renault aren’t getting the job done, so expect harsh words if they haven’t made gains over the winter.

Red Bull scrupulously avoided doing anything which resembled a performance run during qualifying. Keeping in mind the leap in progress they made before the first race of last year, don’t be surprised if they suddenly look at lot more competitive once the real action begins.

Over to you

Are Red Bull more of a threat than they appeared to be in testing? And is Kvyat ready for his big chance?

Have your say in the comments.

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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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43 comments on “Red Bull rebuilding as dream team dissolves”

  1. Sem (@05abrahamsemere)
    6th March 2015, 11:51

    Red Bull will do just fine without Vettel. As others have pointed out, Vettel set a new record in 2014 as being the first defending champion not to win a race whilst his teammate has in the same car. Before Vettel can think about the title, he has to think about beating Raikonnen first. After the pummelling he received from Danny in 2014, it is critical for him to finish ahead of Kimi in the championship. Unfortunately, the testing data showed that Kimi has a slight advantage, especially in the long runs. This does not bode well for Vettel, given how he is not known for his adaptability like an Alonso, Hamilton or Riccardio.
    My prediction: Vettel will be regularly outqualified and outpointed by Kimi, ending his final years at Ferrari as the new Vilinueve. This will be the first time that a multiple champion has been beaten two years in a row by their respective teammates. I predict Danny will contnue to get the better of Vettel this year and for many more years to come B-)

    1. Yes, it indeed was a blessing when Vettel left, now he is Ferrari’s problem. That enormous contract will start to bite soon with minimal returns. Now that Redbull actually have to fight in the pack they do have the right driver with the right skills for the task at hand. As for Vettel beating Kimi that is not in itself gonna make a huge difference, seeing as Massa has too achieved that feat.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      6th March 2015, 14:09

      @05abrahamsemere – What has ever happened that gives the impression Alonso, Hamilton and Ricciardo are more adaptable than Vettel?

      Vettel started in open wheel racing in 2003 and managed 5 wins in his first season from 19 races. In his second season, he won 18 out of 20!

      He then moved to Formula 3 where he finished 5th in his first season getting on the podium 6 times.

      The following season he finished 2nd in the championship and had a go at Formula 3.5 where he won 2 out of the 3 races he took part in.

      The following year he got his break in F1 with BMW followed by a few races for Toro Rosso where he earned himself a full time Toro Rosso drive for the following year.

      His first full season in F1 yielded a win whilst driving a Toro Rosso…..

      In his second full season, this time with Red Bull, he managed to adapt fairly quickly by winning the third race of the season and beat his vastly experienced team-mate in the final standings.

      This would appear to suggest that he’s quite adaptable and when things do change, he starts strong and improves with each race.

      You also mention that Kimi (driving for a team he has vast experience of working with) appeared to have a slight advantage over Vettel (who has just joined Ferrari and was taking part in his first testing sessions) on longer runs. I would be very surprised if Kimi wasn’t faster than Vettel whilst he’s getting used to how the team works. Everything is different – how the team talk to you, your position in the team, your relationship with your mechanics, the language, the steering wheel, the processes. If Vettel looked stronger than Kimi already, you’d have to question what Kimi was doing!?

      1. @petebaldwin For the sake of balance and playing devil’s advocate it could easily be argued that every driver is adaptable because, as you rightly say, they have won in different cars on the way to F1. However, when discussing Vettel I think a lot of posters want to belittle him to the level of Jacques Villeneuve which I think is absolutely ridiculous. The gap between the big 3 drivers of the moment is absolutely tiny but I would certainly agree Vettel is the driver most susceptible to criticism.

        I believe this is can be attributed to his adaptability, especially in cars with average downforce rear ends. I take nothing away from Vettel and his dominant spell but if you were to ask me if Mark Webber was an acceptable yard-stick to rate an all-time great before 2008, I would have laughed at you. The main arguments for his lack of adaptability must be the first half of the 2012 season where he was beaten by Webber and his 2014 season where he was convincingly beaten by someone who could be an all-time great. I am aware this is an easy area to look at but both seasons share the common theme of rear-end stability.

        I can’t really accept 2009 as an example of adapting to a new car either because there was fundamental regulation change. That to me is merely learning how to drive a car with a strong rear-end; something Vettel has proven a master of. With regard to racing Raikkonen, I think he has to, and will, destroy him. Not by the margin Alonso did, purely because Kimi will be better with a car he can use, but definitely ahead.

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          6th March 2015, 15:52

          @rbalonso – Some fair points although Vettel hasn’t just won in different cars – he has won immediately in different cars, teams and categories.

          Whilst I agree with what you say about Vettel’s performance when he has less rear grip, the point I was originally responding to referenced Vettel’s ability to adapt to a new team which I cannot understand as all of the evidence seems to point to the contrary. Similarly, it was mentioned that Alonso, Hamilton and Ricciardo were very adaptable but their records don’t look any better.

          I don’t quite understand the third paragraph. Surely a fundamental regulation change that changed how gave the cars much more rear grip would require all drivers to adapt their driving styles. Vettel did that the best… I would be amazed if Vettel, who is excited and looking forward to the next stage of his career with lots to prove, didn’t absolutely destroy Kimi, who has openly said that he’ll most likely retire at the end of the year.

        2. @rbalonso

          The only reason Webber was ahead of Vettel in 2012 in that Narain Karthikeyan took Vettel out in Malaysia and then VETs engine stopped when he was on for a certain win in Valencia.

          Probably the biggest difference between Vettel and RIC last year, is RIC was slightly better with the tires over the course of a race.

          As for the wins, VET had some bad luck with pit stops at Canada (and no straight-line speed to pass HUK in the FI in the first half of the race) or it could have easily been him on the top step of the podium. Both VET and ROS suffered huge bad luck with the Safety Car in Hungary as well.

          I was listening to an interview with Massa and he talked about his time a Ferrari a bit as a number two driver. The treatment he got took just a bit away from him being 100% (I’m paraphrasing from memory) and that is worth a couple tenths a lap.

          The point being, how tight the margins really are. I think something no one talks about is Vettel’s own motivation from last year. His friend and mentor in a devastating accident (MSC), the birth of his first child (he’s very much a family man), combined with a car that had massive issues in preseason and reliability issues throughout the first half of the season (3 laps in AUS?), a mechanical DNF running in 3rd at Monaco, engine issues in Bahrain, etc.

          And ultimately, knowing you’re racing for 3rd at best. There was a vastly different mindset between RIC and VET last year. Third place for RIC, who’s never been on a podium and needing to earn a spot on the main team, would be all over any chance for that – he’d never had 1 podium. Vettel had 66.

          Being fractionally off is all it takes. Not to mention, as DC has mentioned with Mika Hakkinen, his 2 WDCs in a row wore him out. Jackie Stewart has talked about the pressures of being the WDC and how that makes multiple WDCs in a row very hard.

          VET had 4 in a row, then goes into a non competitive car, with a new kid at home and a close friend who may be permanently comatose and a teammate who is extremely fast. I’d rate RIC over Bottas and ROS. I wonder how many races RIC might have won in that Williams?

          So yeah, I’d cut a bit of slack to VET.

      2. Correct me if I’m wrong:

        Vettel had 5 fantastic seasons in F1, and 1 bad season
        Ricciardo had 1 fantastic season in F1, and 2 ‘OK’ seasons (nobody knows how good/bad Vergne is)

        One is a future champion (at least that’s what I’m reading here), the other is already a 4-time-champion. If someone is overrated here, it’s Ricciardo, not Vettel.

    3. Over to you

      Are Red Bull more of a threat than they appeared to be in testing? And is Kvyat ready for his big chance?

      Have your say in the comments.

      @05abrahamsemere The Article was about Red Bull and not about Vettel (Who does not even drive for Red Bull now!!!!) .

      But Alas , the interest was always in bashing Vettel…. who cares what the News article is about and what happens with Red Bull !!!

    4. Oh-kaaay! I think we can put you down in the “don’t like Vettel” column. Do you have any thoughts on the actual topic here, which is supposed to be Red Bull, Ricciardo, and Kvyat?

  2. Let’s hope renault is a bit more powerful and reliable.

    1. @jcost

      Yes please
      Some more fight from
      Renault , I can only assume they are trying there hardest to win again ,

      I think DanRic will lead the team well
      Daniil will sit and listen and learn and be a good re gunner for the time being ,
      Red bull will be fine
      Their dominant streak is done which is fine but you don’t (shouldn’t) win so many races and forget how to win ,

  3. A bit off-topic but I just learnt a new word; surfeit. It’s not the first time I’ve seen a new word or phrase on F1Fanatic that makes me do a double take and check the definition of. Top quality writing.

    As for whether Red Bull will be competitive, I don’t have the cojones to predict they will, but only a fool would outright dismiss them.

    1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      6th March 2015, 15:32

      @skipgamer and as an English teacher and not being native, this is another reason why I love this site!

      1. @omarr-pepper Tell your students to visit this site! hehe
        But seriously, I’m not a native English speaker either and I remember when I was a kid and we first got internet as soon as I started visiting sites in English and interacting in forums etc my knowledge of the language increased dramatically.

  4. I think we will be very surprised with Kvyat this year. This is a very young and incredibly strong line up IMO.

    1. Agree about the line up. If McLaren/Honda do improve rapidly, we could see a fascinating second-best-team battle between the Red Bull youngsters and the McLaren old timers (presuming Alonso is actually OK to go after Melbourne). Most of the top teams also seem to have opted for similar drivers in terms of age and/or race style, meaning there should be a lot of intra-team rivalry too.

    2. I fail to see what exactly it was that Kvyat did last year that was so impressive @fer-no65. Vergne thoroughly spanked him all the way to Russia if you ask me.

      1. 2014: Vergne’s problem was that he wasn’t Russian. No logical explanation as to why Kvyat was promoted over him.

        2013: Vergne’s problem was that he wasn’t Australian. Couldn’t see the difference between Vergne and Ricciardo that year. Equally deserving of the Red Bull seat. To me, Red Bull needed to right a PR wrong by the perceived preferential treatment of Vettel over Webber and having a young, capable up and coming Australian was like winning the lottery for them.

        1. I’ve read a couple of things from former engineers/mechanics at Toro Rosso suggesting while pace between the two was similar Ricciardo gave better feedback to the team and was better for car development. If true, that would be a decided advantage for any team to have. I think the decision has been vindicated in Ricciardo’s performance last year. Certainly I think he does more for the profile and image of F1 than I can imagine Vergne doing.

          With Kvyat, I guess time will tell if that was a good decision or not.

          But driving performance isn’t the be-all and end-all of determining who drives for you in F1. It’s a team sport, a rapacious commercial entity, a technology testbed, and many other things all rolled into one. If, after three years with Toro Rosso, Vergne couldn’t stake a firm claim to a race seat despite respectable on-track performances then I can only imagine that his performance in other areas was what cost him.

    3. @fer-no65, I fully agree. Kvyat is in a position similair to RIC last year. He is known to be talented and quick, especially in quilifying, but he has yet to prove his racing skills and consistency. RIC got the job done last year. Let’s hope Kvyat can do it as well. By the end of the year, Redbull would have a great future-proof line-up.

  5. Redbull with vettel leaving reminds me this year of benneton in 1996 after schumacher left, or renault in 2007 after alonso left. only this time the demise is mostly because of the unsporting engine rules. Ricciardo has shown to be great, but in the Redbull now he will probably have a career like Jean Alesi.

    1. Yet in this case Vettel already collapsed before he left.

      Red Bull has the biggest budget and they most likely had the best car last year (just the engine let them down). They are not like a dwindeling team like Benetton or Renault were after their actual star driver left.

      1. but the performance deficit is similar… not for their fault.

    2. You want Ricciardo to have a career like Alesi.
      Not gonna happen.

      What’s intesting is that Vettel himself said a couple years ago that he would be with Red Bull as long as Newey was there. And there’s still people thinking that if Red Bull is to go back to the middle of the pack, it’s because Vettel left, when the reason is Newey stepping back.

    3. RIC already has 3 wins so is already ahead of Alesi.

      1. but is he ahead of performance? he might not achieve anymore wins.

  6. Red Bull will surely miss Adrian Newey. Vettel, not so much.
    He may be a capable and hard working driver, but then, Red Bull just produced another similar material.

    And how can they produce another Newey?

    But the team as a whole is still one of the best, if not the best, and like we saw on COTA and other circuits last year, they don’t need the best car to achieve results. My bet for best of the rest is on them, easy.

  7. Yes Red Bull will be more of a threat than testing. Red Bull has a good track record in the Non-European races. This mean the first few races of the years they will try to capitalize on that strength while they along with Renault improve the car. I still believe that Red Bull will finish No 2 this year. Ric will definitely win a race and I won’t be surprised if Kavyt wins a race too. I would love to see that. RBR had never gone wrong with their Promotions so far. As they same in some cultures.

    “Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.”
    ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

    This is true testing times for Christian Horner too. He needs to rebuild the team he once did magnificently. Another 2 – 3 lackluster years , Dietrich Mateschitz might think of putting it out on Sale. He might think of cashing out when it is in some decent shape.

  8. Red Bull misses Vettel. But I know Ricciardo and Kvyat will show their strength and moves to help Red Bull snatch wins and championships in the future. Mercedes for me, it could be close, their power unit is still powerful but they are still defending champions. We’re hoping Red Bull and Renault to close the gap on them and it will be just fine with them.

  9. RB’s long run pace in Barcelona looked competitive (to their likely competition, Williams and Ferrari). So they’ll be one of the teams looking to grab the podium spots the W06 leaves vacant. But I think reliability will be a problem this year (as it was last year for all the Renault powered drivers except Ricciardo) and as a result they’ll fall to third or fourth in the constructors.

  10. I have no doubt Red Bull will be 2nd best team and much closer to Mercedes than last year.

    The Newey chassis will be top class and Renault says the power is now there.

    Only weak point is engine driveability, but that will helped by this years new and grippier rear tyres and Red Bull’s usual high downforce levels and balanced car.

    Other weak point might be driver Kvyat’s ability to consistently score good points, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

  11. Red Bull will be very lucky to get the second step in any race this year, let alone a race win. Barring a Mercedes malfunction, driver error or on-track incident, it should be a Mercedes clean sweep from Australia to Abu Dhabi!

  12. I think that many commenters, professionals too, make the mistake of judging the RB-11 based on the strong 2010-13 seasons rather than merit. Not only has Newey taken a back seat, they lost Prodromou too. They did not impress during testing and ran quite deep into it with the aero sensor rig attached. Perhaps the camouflage livery was also intended to disguise the amount of aero testing done? Another point against them is that high downforce also implies a great amount of drag, hence their low top speed. That coupled with the power deficit of the Renault engine may see the RB-11 a lame duck coming out of the corners and onto the straights, even without DRS. Of course I may be wrong, but I see not only Williams and Ferrari but also McLaren finishing ahead of them in the constructor’s WC.

    1. Newey is fullly involved with this car. It’s from next year he will not be as involved.
      Renault has said they are on top of the power, only driveability and perhaps reliability lacking.
      In testing they not only camouflaged the body, but their true speed as well.
      High downforce has always been Red Bull’s asset and an obvious advantage over the season as long as Renault has decent power which they now have.
      They also operate superbly and managed 3 wins last year when they shouldn’t even be near the Mercedes, so it seems unreasonable to think they won’t this year when there’s an inevitable gap reduction following stable rules and slight thawing of the engine freeze.

  13. From what I understand part of the Red Bull ‘recipe’ was the way Vettel was able to throw the car into corners and get on the power earlier than anyone else (including Webber). But then the rear diffuser changed, no longer could the exhaust gasses be used to pin the car to the ground. So Vettel’s ‘trick’ of being able to drop the car into the apex and power out could no longer be applied. I am no expert on this, however, he had this one ‘trick’, albeit a good one, and with it he could get P1 in Q3. From there he could drive into the distance. There were times like Canada in 2011 when he actually made a mistake and I don’t think he ever drove from the pit lane or last place to win, as per Jenson Button in Canada, 2011.
    Red Bull struggled to make a car work for him once the blown diffuser was gone, and by Red Bull I mean Adrian Newey.
    So what for Red Bull now? In Ricciardo they have an excellent driver who can battle up from mid-field driving wheel to wheel with the rest of them. They only need one good driver, this they have. The car itself is best of breed and, in their winning years, they always had a power deficit compared to Mercedes. This power deficit hasn’t held them up, lack of blown diffuser has been the problem, (where the blown diffuser is actually a blown diffuser coupled with a driver who really knows how to get something awesome out of it).
    The Mercedes is terrifyingly dominant, but, short of some miracle in Woking (or Grove or anywhere else), I am sure that Red Bull will be there to pick up the spoils, and, as per 2009, I am sure they will gain in relative competitiveness throughout the season, maybe to make it less than run-away for Mercedes. Here’s to an exciting season ahead of us. I am no Red Bull fan, but yes, I will be most pleased to see them winning again.

    1. There’s a lot wrong with that analysis. For one thing the blown diffuser was banned after the 2011 season. It wasn’t in use in 2012 or 2013. For another thing RB did not get an EBD on their 2009 car until Monaco. In spite of not having access to his “one trick” Vettel still won in China and came second in Bahrain.

      Swapping Kvyat in for Vettel is a downgrade, as all but the most determined Vettel bashers would admit. And RB have lost a number of key technical people to other teams. So they definitely look weaker than they have for a few years.

      1. @rm I think he’s just referring to exhaust blowing in general. In the first half of 2012, Red Bull were struggling to qualify their car well, but it had good race pace. They then brought in an upgrade package for Singapore that revised the rear bodywork which also altered the way that the exhaust gases interacted with the rear aerodynamics, which improved rear downforce and brought back that “counter-intuitive” driving style that Vettel excelled with. Vettel won the next 4 races after that package was introduced.
        Newey developed this exhaust blowing effect even further in 2013 (though that car was limited by the aggressive tyres for the first half of the season, until they were changed following Silverstone).

        The fact that Newey was still able to harness the exhaust blowing effect despite the blown diffuser being banned is why the FIA changed the exhaust to its current form in 2014, with a single pipe placed in such a way that exhaust blowing is now extremely difficult.

        It’s wrong to say that Vettel needs a car with an exhaust blowing effect to be good though, as he put in some great performances in 2008 and (as you say) early 2009 before it was introduced to the cars he drove.

  14. To be honest, I think Kvyat has benefited from the “I’d rather be lucky than good” mantra. The timing was simply right for him to inheret the Red Bull spot. Granted, you could argue the same for Ricciardo and look at how he wound up. So who knows? Maybe Kvyat could come out swinging. But based on the performance of previous STR drivers, I really don’t see any results that stand out among the results of those who came before him. So if he does well, good on him. But to me that says pretty much all of the drivers that have gone through the program deserved a better chance, but were not in the right place at the right time to have an RBR seat fall in their lap. I dunno, if it was me, I’d be very wary of the Red Bull program simply for the fact that it’s more of a crap shoot than your talent proving your worth. Not to mention the awful track record of drivers who don’t graduate getting ignored by everyone else.

  15. What would have been extra great/awesome , was Vettel letting RB know a little earlier and giving Vergne a run in the big car ,

    I’m sure there’s good reason Vergne got dropped , not just a coin flip

  16. Kvyat will do ok, but will be a clear number two at least to start with. Whether he can progress to being a top driver, well hard to say. Red bull see something there, and they are well placed to make the decision they did.

    re competitiveness, lets hope for the sake of racing red bull are highly competetive

  17. I don’t think this year Red Bull or Riccardo can win any races…standing in podium itself is a big achievement. Last year story was different.

    I believe Dan will get the same treatment from Dani, when he gave to Vet last year. :)

  18. Ron (@rcorporon)
    9th March 2015, 12:12

    I believe in the two Daniel’s. We’ll be fine.

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