Red Bull has drawn a line under the episode in Istanbul where its two drivers hit each other, but the points remain lost. We calculate that the total points lost by Red Bull this season in the opening seven races adds up to 120.
The statement also contained the first words from Vettel about the incident since his brief appearance in front of the microphones in Istanbul. “The team had got us into a great position and it wasn’t good for them what happened – so I’m sorry for them that we lost the lead of the race,” he said.
“Mark and I are racers and we were racing. We are professionals and it won’t change how we will work together going forward. We have a great team and the spirit is very strong. I’m looking forward to Canada.”
Webber said he was sorry for the workers at the factory and added, “Seb and I will make sure it doesn’t happen again and will continue to work openly together, no problem. We have talked enough on it now, it’s done, we’re looking ahead and I’m focused on the race in Canada next week.”
We will see how long cordiality remains between the pair. Meanwhile what emerged from Istanbul was more threatening for Red Bull. McLaren moved back ahead of them in the constructors’ championship, thanks to the gift the Red Bull’s drivers gave them. The Woking team has also been closing the performance gap and it has some major development steps imminent. Red Bull will not stand still, but they still have the tricky task of getting the drag reducing rear wing to work, while McLaren’s track record in development is second to none.
As with Brawn last year, Red Bull had a big performance advantage at the start of the season, with seven poles from seven races and the early races were vital for Red Bull to press home its advantage and establish a strong hold on both championships. Brawn did that with Button winning six of the first seven races. Red Bull has failed to do that.
Red Bull has lost a total of 120 points this season, based on the reasonable assumption that a team should be able to finish the race in the same positions in which its drivers start.
In Bahrain, Vettel lost 13 points when he started from pole and a spark plug issue dropped him to 4th place.
In Australia, Vettel lost 25 points having qualified on pole and then suffered a brake failure, while Webber, who qualified second, lost 20 points, based on Vettel finishing first and Webber second. Webber’s issue was first a bad pit call and then a later driver error.
In Malaysia, they broke the mould and got the maximum return on a weekend when many of their rivals dropped points through bad strategy and pit decisions.
In China, the pair qualified first and second. Vettel lost 17 points by finishing sixth, Webber lost 14 by finishing eighth – this was due to the weather and strategy decisions. To be fair to Red Bull, they were not the only ones who threw points away on that tricky day.
In Turkey, pole sitter Webber lost 10, while Vettel dropped 18, based on Webber winning and Vettel second.
This adds up to a total of 120 points, or an average of 17 points per race. I’m sure others will have their way of interpreting the races and the numbers, but this looks like a fair assessment based on reasonable assumptions.
Time will tell whether they can recover to a position of comfortable dominance, but it’s clear that they will have learned a painful lesson from the first seven races and they will be sure to press home any advantage they get in future.