In 2009, Red Bull Racing pulled off some incredible performances. A car that was not privy to the dual diffuser benefits in the beginning of the year marched back to win races and place, mathematically, both drivers in the hunt for the world championship.
No wonder then that they eyes of the world are on the Austrian team for 2010. With drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull are in their most positive position to fight for a title yet. All that depends on how reliable their Renault engine is and how well the RB6 chassis is made.
It was last year when Red Bull approached Mercedes about using their engine for 2010 and rumor has it that McLaren quickly put a stop tho those notions. Left with little choice, Red Bull continues its strategic relationship with Renault as the engine supplier and already there have been a few glitches.
If there is a hint of reticence in anyone bet for Red Bull to win the title, it is the engine reliability that is causing it. German driver Vettel is comfortable with the situation, however, and is confident that they will remain reliable as well as competitive. He shared his thoughts with reporters in Bahrain:
“I think we will have no problem surviving 49 laps.”
“Generally I’m happy and I’m confident,” he said.
“I think we have never been as prepared as we are now.
“On the other hand, the fact that the test times were very difficult to read, we don’t really know where we are.
“I think Ferrari looks extremely strong, and then you’ve got Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and us within a couple of tenths.
“Here it could be totally different because the temperatures are way different to what we had in Barcelona.
“Then on Saturday we’ll find out who is strong and who is not, and on Sunday we have the big unknown – everyone starting on lots of fuel.”
The Red Bull did create a few stoppages during off-season testing events but there is an upside to the relationship. This is the same engine supplier they used for 2009 and one could presume that any issues would be dealt with immediately and efficiently. It should be a known entity to the team.
A particular point is the heat. The teams tested in markedly cooler temperatures than the ones they will face in Bahrain. The engines and cooling in particular will be taxed far more than in the cool winter of Europe.
Will the Renault play a factor in Red Bull’s title chances? Will Vettel be hobbled by a suspect lump and run up against a limited engine change regulation similar to last year? What do you think will be Red Bull’s biggest challenge?