Testing brought up a few reoccurring themes this year. We all know about Honda’s woes and Mercedes lap count, but one thing which kept on being mentioned in whispers was the lack of aero additions on the Red Bull.
It was being treated as an open secret. Adrian Newey spent the first test joking about being simple and therefore needing to create a simple car. That’s a great sound bite for the media and it also completely deflects from what appears to be going on.
There is not a single person, up and down the paddock, who thinks that the Red Bull we are seeing at testing is going to be the Red Bull which sits on the grid Melbourne. It has to have more to it. The aero-dynamic genius which is Adrian Newey, appears to have been fired up by the new regulations and the room he has to work within the rules. So why would he leave the vast majority of the car empty of wings and fins?
There is the counter argument that Red Bull need to make up for the Tag Heuer branded Renault engine’s lack of pace and therefore want to put as little on the car which will create a drag effect. It’s a smart argument and one we can buy into. If the Red Bull does turn up in Australia without significant upgrades, then we can completely see why. Everyone knows the Renault is down on power and we can accept the Red Bull approach.
It’s just that we don’t think this would be the case.
The really interesting part of this whole bluff theory, is that Red Bull aren’t slow. If the theory holds out to be true, then Red Bull have managed to make a beta-spec car go faster than their sister team, Toro Rosso, and the well funded Renault factory team. Now neither of these two teams are going to be challenging for wins this year, but they are decent marks with which to use a beta car to beat.
Even looking at the overall timesheets and accepting the fact that every team is sandbagging. Well nearly every team, McLaren are the exception proving the rule. The supposedly beta-spec aero package has managed to get the Red Bull to be only 0.119 seconds off second place.
Just weighing that fact up for a minute allows you to see how much of an impact any updates could have on the Red Bull. We don’t think they will be toppling the Mercedes any time soon, but the podium or a solid battle with Ferrari is on the cards.
There are a thousand questions which will be answered by the time we get to the chequered flag in two weeks time. Red Bull’s wings and fins is just one of the sub-plots which we can’t wait to discover.