Red Bull may have had a perfect season in terms of securing the Drivers & Constructors championships, but it was a different story throughout the year. Early reliability problems for Sebastian Vettel, the inter-team politics that plagued the middle of the season, question marks over the car’s legality from rival teams and Mark Webber’s shoulder injury (which he decided to withhold from the team) towards the end of the season only just scratches the surface of Red Bull Racing’s 2010 campaign.
Clearly the fastest car in the field, they were the team to beat as the season kicked off in Bahrain. Launching their car late in the winter meant more time for Adrian Newey to work on the package of the RB6 in the windtunnel before hitting the track. Possibly not to give their rivals an early look at what they knew would be a very quick car.
One of the big things pointed out when the RB6 did hit the track was the low exhaust exit. Red Bull tried deflecting any questions about their exhaust exits by (possibly jokingly) placing stickers depicting an exhaust exit in a more traditional raised location.
It was clear when the car hit the track that it was quick, a lot of the DNA of the RB5 moved over into the RB6 and with the genius of Adrian Newey heading the technical team in Milton Keynes, they had more tim to refine concepts & innovations from 2009 such as the double diffuser.
2011 is a different challenge for Red Bull. They start this season on top. It is clearly harder to defend a title than be one of the teams that are trying to chase them down. With such major changes in the cars this year, it would not be surprising to see Red Bull lose the clear advantage they had in 2010.
This will be a big year for Red Bull. There will undoubtable be more attention on them as they are the World Champions, that will mean being under a different kind of pressure from 2010. With at least 3 teams gunning for them this year, and the added pressure of Vettel vs Webber, Red Bull will need to keep their eye on what is important and to avoid the mistakes of 2010.
Chrisian Horner will have a busy time during 2011. He will have the difficult task of keeping Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber happy and working together, and with the latter’s contract due to expire at the end of 2011, there will be decisions that will have to be made. Keep the Aussie for another year, or replace him with someone else within the Red Bull family? How the season goes and how the pair work with each other after the problems of last year will be quite telling as to the direction Red Bull go with their driver line up for 2012.
The 2010 World Champion goes into the new season as one of the favourites. He has shown his speed and the ability to extract the maximum out of the car he raced to the title. There were a number of mistakes along the way, the biggest being the crash with his team mate in the Turkish Grand Prix, as well as the crash into Jenson Button at Spa.
This season we will see if he has learnt from those mistakes. It is clear he has exceptional speed, as his qualifying record proves, but with his overtaking skills being called into question over the course of 2010, this will be a big year for Vettel, more so than 2010 as everyone is anticipating a closer title battle with more teams fighting it out for victories.
The early season reliability problems he suffered were unfortunate, and without those he would have most likely wrapped up the championship much earlier than the final race of the season, but spark plug problems and brake failures are not down to the driver. This is something Red Bull would have learnt from and if Sebastian keeps the speed he had in 2010, he will definitely have more pole positions and wins to his name in 2011.
2010 was a mixed year for Mark Webber, highs were wins in Monaco and at Silverstone, lows were the spectacular Valencia crash and the mistake in Korea. There is a danger that Mark could go into 2011 believing he has missed his big chance to win the World Championship.
As he approaches the latter stages of his career (especially compared to Sebastian Vettel) there may be a thought of missed opportunities throughout 2010. It is clear the incident in the Turkish Grand Prix between himself and Sebastian Vettel caused friction between the pair, and in the team, which could be a reason that he witheld the shoulder injury he suffered leading up to the Japanese Grand Prix from the team.
Mark knows that this could be his last big chance to push for the title, with his contract up at the end of the year it will be difficult to convince the team to keep him if he is not beating Sebastian Vettel and up there challenging for the title from the start of the year. The talk of their issues being resolved over the winter will only be clear once they both hit the track and are fighting for position.
With the injuries problems behind him, there is only one clear aim for Mark Webber in 2011, to fight for victories in the RB7 and win the World Championship.
Beyond that, it would be difficult to see what his next step would be if he leaves Red Bull.