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F1 rivals left asking, “Why is the Red Bull so fast?”
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F1 rivals left asking, “Why is the Red Bull so fast?”
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 May 2010   |  5:35 pm GMT  |  37 comments

The pace of the Red Bull cars this weekend has really shocked its rivals, all of whom are heading back to the drawing board after the updates their brought here seem to have taken them further away rather than closer to the pace setters.

All a bit of a blur - Red Bull is too fast for rivals


Mark Webber took pole today with a lap which was 9/10ths of a second faster than the McLaren, a second faster than the Ferrari and 1.3 secs faster than the Mercedes.

“I came here thinking that we could really put on a challenge now and it’s not gone that way. We really need to look into it, in terms of our competitors we are not where we want to be and we have made a small step back, ” said Nico Rosberg, currently second in the world championship.

“One team is untouchable while the other top three teams are very close,” said Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali.

Mercedes boss Ross Brawn broke down exactly how the Red Bull is setting such unreachable lap times in qualifying trim,
“We can see where they are quick,” he said.”Turn 9, the high speed corner, they are quite exceptional through. It’s high speed corners and this is a track where there are lots of high speed corners. That’s their strength. It was also their strength last year but they had a weakness in slow corners last year. This year they are good in slow corners and had retained their ability in high speed corners.”

What is particularly striking is that they are only 20th and 21st through the speed trap 9km/h slower than the Ferrari, which is a lot to give away.

World Championship leader Jenson Button said,” They have very good traction and they can carry speed through the corners because they have a stable rear end. On corner exit they are very strong. I’m a little bit surprised at how quick they are. They are in a very good position.”

Everybody has come to Barcelona with improvements to their cars. Red Bull has been secretive about the new parts it has on its car, except to admit that the mechanics have had hardly any sleep over the last two nights as they fitted the new parts. There are obvious updates on the front wing and detail on the diffuser, there is also some improvement to the floor. Clearly the downforce creating elements of the rear of the car, the diffuser and the rear wing are giving the car a very stable rear end and this is balanced out by a large and sophisticated front wing.

However McLaren believe that the Red Bull is not so far ahead in race trim as it is harder on its tyres than the other top teams. With the top ten cars starting the race on the soft tyres on which they qualified, the long fast corners will ask a lot of questions of the front left tyre and it will be interesting to see how the Red Bull handles the opening stint on full fuel tanks.

From what we saw in Friday practice, however, the Red Bull looked pretty good on the long runs. Webber did a 19 lap run which was pretty consistent in the 1m 24s and 1m25s, tailing off in the final three laps into the 1m 26s. At the same time Schumacher did a 14 lap run which started in the 1m25s and slipped into the 1m26s after six laps.

“It´s a surprise for all the others but also for us,” said Vettel. “It´s a dangerous thing as well because we need to keep pushing and also to confirm it tomorrow (in the race).

“It might look comfortable today but you only get points in the race – we´ve been in this position before…”

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37 Comments
  1. It’s either all of that (what people are saying) or also the way in how Adrian Newey and Christian Horner handle the team and how they provide stability, technical direction and good reference points for everyone. Associate all of it with a good driving pair and I guess everything will just fall in place. I think other teams lack the reference points. Mercedes has Ross Brawn but McLaren and Ferrari is a bit more disperse.

    1. seisteve says:

      It is no secret (except to McClaren who let him go) that Adrian Newey is an awesome designer but lets not forget this is about the race weekend.

      Last year with refuelling the expectation is that the pole sitter can go and forget the rest but tyres are more important with no re-fuelling and as this article states the success for any team is to ensure that they operate well across the needs of qualifying and the 2 hour race session which require a car that can do both.

      The red bull is an awesome qualifying car but shows weaknesses over the distance and as this article mentions is not as good to the tyres and Spain can hurt tyres.

      Saying all of this, they have the opportunity of clean air and less trouble (unless Mark tries to take Vettel at the start and they touch!!!)which does give them an advantage and the ability to treat their tires with more respect than if you are in a position where you have to take the battle to a car in front of you.

      Bottom line is this will make a for a great race…. can’t wait.

  2. Omar Kamal says:

    I think Hamilton and Alonso will manage to pass the Red Bulls

    1. Amritraj says:

      Highly unlikely. With a one second advantage in quali., they are going to ahead by a comfortable margin on race pace as well.

      Also remember they have the Renault engine which is very very fuel efficient, hence allowing them to less weight than McLaren and Ferrari. Also, the Renault engine has been improved on reliability grounds. So, I don’t think they are low on horsepower compared to their rivals.

  3. Mike Dawson says:

    The great picture on the article sums up Red Bull this weekend. A bit of a blur and impossible to catch.

    … Please let the race tomorrow be closer than quali. :)

  4. Adrian Newey has built a rocket ship to be sure. But Ross Brawn is a genius and McLaren’s development rate last year was immense. I’ll be amazed, and plenty disappointed in the rest of the grid, if the Red Bull’s aren’t reeled in by Silverstone.

    Jenson will be happy to have built a small lead in the earlier rounds and he’s the best driver to take advantage of changeable conditions in races.

    The season is not a one-Bull race yet.

    1. Andy C says:

      The thing to remember is it isn’t just newey. He has a good team behind him, and I think he seems best able to get the best out of all of his team, as well as being outstanding individually. I suspect mclaren may be keen to get him back :-)

      how quick would they be with a merc engine!

  5. CPR says:

    Seems to me that at least half the gap is down to the soft tire. In Q1 when both were on hard tires, the gap between McLaren and Red Bull was far smaller.

    The start tomorrow is going to be VERY exciting!

  6. Érico says:

    The remainder of the season will be just as interesting as how many times Red Bull drops their ball. Unless you’re a fan of them.

    They really should be able to win all races from now on.

  7. Antoine says:

    “…the long fast corners will ask a lot of questions of the front left tyre and it will be interesting to see how the Red Bull handles the opening stint on full fuel tanks”

    I like this part a lot.

  8. Sergio says:

    Looks like Red Bull made a further step ahead of the other three team whereas the three team behind seems getting closer and closer to each other. One thing that I’m surprise though is to see how far is Massa from Alonso; about half a second? that’s way too much. Is also nice to see Button so close to Hamilton; that’s they it has to be between team mates. The McClaren team has to be very happy with the way Button has been performing to far this year.

  9. Wally says:

    T.V chanels all over the world who have paid squillions to screen this race must be praying for rain tomorrow.
    Without rain this race has got bahrain stamped all over it

    1. Rich C says:

      I forget – how many zeroes in a ‘squillion’ ? ;D

  10. Kenny says:

    Is it not possible actually that with this mass improvement in 1 lap pace it may very well hinder them at the START of the race tomorrow?
    I mean yes you did mention their consistency with a longer fuel run, but how much more fuel was that in comparison to the low fuel quali trim?
    What I’m trying to say is that it may be possible that the Red Bull is brilliant in a fuel range up to a point and beyond this it really hurts their pace.

    1. A.K. says:

      I don’t think so. Remember that they have been very consistently fast when in clean air at the front in Bahrain, Melbourne and Malaysia.

      They might be slightly tough on their tyres but not to the extent that their opponents hope and make out in their bid to keep their own morales up.

  11. JoTorrent says:

    How amazing !!!! This car is awesome, it is not RedBull anymore it’s RedBOLT !

    This is worrying for RedBull though. If the race is dry and they manage to loose it, they will take a big hit. Up to now, they didn’t live up to their Saturday’s promises with a mixture of reliability issues, strategy bad calls and a less impressive race pace. But if they manage to spoil it on Sunday, they might find it hard to recover.

    If McLaren has a good race pace, I’ll go for WEBBER/HAMILTON/VETTEL for the podium.
    If RedBull are as impressive in race trim, I’ll go for WEBBER/VETTEL/HAMILTON or ALONSO.

    The start will be crucial though and the race boring 100% sure. After a couple of laps switch the TV off !

  12. JoTorrent says:

    Nothing to do with RedBull, Great Season right now :

    - James Allen Blog is really taking off

    - Lewis Hamilton is being humbled by BUTTON, a lighter head might help him go quicker !

    - Schumi is back (I was sure he was over, I was wrong and happy to be wrong)

  13. Kakashi says:

    Well done Red Bull… Go Mark!!!!

  14. BeenDun says:

    The red bulls have been in this position before. They don’t always capitalize on it. Anything can happen in a race. It’s wide open anyone in the top 4-6 could win with the right breaks.

  15. David Jerromes says:

    Red Bulls performance margin is certainly huge in quali, lets see what the margin is during the race….

    With teams itching to get onto their 2011 designs, the uncertainty over the tyre supplier(s)and diameter AND an apparently clear advantage to RB right now….me thinks that designers and engineers are not going to be getting so much sleep in their respective F1 homes!

    This should give RB an advantage that could well see them ‘steal’ competitors design-time away from next years cars just to try to cut the deficit!!

    The RB looked exceptionally stable through the fast corners and not at all twitchy.

    Teams budgets are quite secretive and the comment about RB’s being substantially less than others is very interesting. With Newey they save on regular hair-cuts and styling products but that’s about it…, right?!

    Would be good to see the top ten list of budgets for sure!!

    1. mvi says:

      For the budgets, here’s the link to an article in Pitpass quoting a report by Chris Sylt. It includes a list of the **estimated** budgets for 2010. I guess these can change during the year with any new sponsors. I wonder what the actuals will be ….

      http://www.pitpass.com/fes_php/pitpass_news_item.php?fes_art_id=40573

      1. Andy C says:

        If I were Ferrari I would be seriously worried about any capping of budgets….if those figures are correct.

        James
        what are the respective headcounts of the f1 teams?

      2. Hope this helps. Here are the latest (2008) headcounts:
        Force India: 288
        Williams: 533
        Renault: 546
        McLaren: 611
        Red Bull: 594
        Toro Rosso: 169
        Brawn: 717

      3. James Allen says:

        Thanks for that. Brawn came down pretty dramatically in 2008. Think they are more like 400 now.

      4. 400 sounds about right but I think you mean 2009 for Brawn. All the headcount numbers above are for end of year 2008 and the Brawn cuts were made soon after the 2009 season began. We will have a precise figure over the next few months.

  16. Dirty Scarab says:

    I can’t imagine that in race trim RBR will be a second faster than Mclaren. A few tenths certainly, but not a second.

    If Lewis can get a decent start off the line and a clean drive down to the first corner, then he might be able to take advantage of a Webber/Vettel skirmish into the first corner.

    The start and the first few corners will dictate what’s looking to be a yawn-fest I’m afraid.

  17. Ahmed Al Mutawa says:

    YOU CAN SUM IT UP IN TWO WORDS ( Adrian Newey )

  18. Steve Merc says:

    What impresses me more than the RedBull’s pace is Mark Webber’s!
    He has got to be one of the most improved drivers ever??.. i never really rated him when he was just cruising around the middle of the pack complaining about everything but his driving. Now he not only keeps up with Vettel, but beats him handsomely! And Vettel is the one who is supposed to be the new superstar.

    Well.. hats off to you Mark, i’m glad to say i misjudged your skills.

    Not many column inches are spent singing your praises, but i think you are fast becoming one of the stars of F1.

    Well done.

    1. Steve Merc says:

      Oh.. and i would have loved to see DC in this car after all the hard work he put into it!

      1. Yeah me too. I so wish DC was driving this year deserves a title

  19. Nick4 says:

    It’s simple; Adrain Newey. He’s back where he was with Williams and the FW14B. Brilliant. He’s been comfortable with Red Bull from the moment he arrived there from McLaren. He was smothered at McLaren by Dennis. At Red Bull his abilities can flourish in a team that appreciates him and that is so unified under Christian Horner.

  20. Sharp_Saw says:

    Qualifying is one thing and the race is another. Its only after the race we can deduce if the RB6 this season is anything similar to the FW14B in 1992.

  21. rogerramjet says:

    I wish Webber would make up his mind if he wants to be a top tier or third tier driver. It has always been diamonds or rocks with him. Yesterday he was extremely classy, but lets wait and see which Webber turns up today.

  22. gaz909 says:

    Maybe it’s the same old story of the Red Bull being really quick but giving up the ghost on about lap 20. Their ability to convert poles into wins is shocking. I actually think a Mclaren will take it, but I’m heavily biased. There is a definate danger of a Bahrain here though! Could be all over by lap 2!

    Saying that, respect to Newey and Horner – they have created a rocket.

  23. rick deamer says:

    its no good being a sprinter in a marathon,good tyre,and fuel management meanssmooth and consistant driving,look no further than mr.button

  24. Kenny says:

    Just thought of something about Ferrari’s method of stalling the rear wing. Yes we have seen multiple times drivers taking hands off the steering wheel and there hasn’t been any fuss about it until now with Alonso using the device whilst also changing the brake bias at the same time.
    I am going to assume Ferrari have obviously analysed the best design for their stalling device to work, but surely it would have been better from a driving point of view if the driver used their elbow instead? Cause it would mean atleast they could still have one hand on the wheel and reduce the risk of the drivers making a mistake coming up to the braking point for a corner. Just a bit of a brain storm.

  25. hasfa says:

    Adrain Newey was a genius in aerodynamic design maker. Which is the most important thing in every
    formula 1 car.

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