No Bull from Red Bull Racing in 2018

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

By Jawad Yaqub, Jawad Yaqub is a Roar Guru

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    It wouldn’t be a Formula One preseason without the microscope being placed over Red Bull Racing, who have enjoyed their strongest winter since the commencement of the hybrid era in 2014.

    The four-time world champions have spent the entirety of the hybrid era in arrears of the dominant Mercedes, having always struggled to hit the ground running at the start of a new season and reaching the peak of their performance too late in the year.

    However, an early launch of their RB14 challenger and strong pace during preseason testing is cause for optimism, even for this perpetual Red Bull pessimist, that the energy drinks giant could mount its fiercest challenge yet to the mighty Silver Arrows.

    “We’re certainly more ready than we were last year – and probably every year before that since I’ve been with the team,” said Daniel Ricciardo during testing in Barcelona.

    “We did a lot of laps, I think the pace of the car is not bad, I think we still have some things to improve, it’s normal.

    “But yeah, going to the race and having confidence to push the car on the limit and to push the engine a little bit, I think we have much more confidence now.”

    Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull laughs during an interview with Formula One reporters.

    (Aron Suveg/Red Bull Content Pool)

    Red Bull must be ready, and such a strong preseason has only created the expectation for results from the outset – not excuses, which the former champions are accustomed to creating.

    Whether it’s the lack of grunt from the Renault power unit, or their own reliability woes on the chassis front, a team of Red Bull’s calibre have stretched the excuse book to the limit, making the demand for success more than justifiable.

    Early hints indicate that Red Bull will be closer to Ferrari and Mercedes despite the latter being suspected to still be the alpha dog in terms of overall power. However, with inroads made by Renault and advances on the Adrian Newey-designed chassis, the RB14 should be in contention with the leaders as soon as the first race.

    Kindness to the more sensitive Pirelli tyres in 2018 may prove to be an advantage for Red Bull, with it suggested that the reigning world champions’ chassis is still harsher on the rubber.

    Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo during 2018 preseason testing

    (Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

    An evolution in their engineering set-up with the creation of a technical director role for former chief engineer of performance Pierre Wache will further strengthen the development bid at Milton Keynes to stay on the ball with their rivals.

    Armed with 20-year-old superstar Max Verstappen and the contract-hunting Ricciardo, the RB14 will have two proven race winners and title prospects behind the wheel.

    So with all the positive signals being sent from Red Bull, the time is nigh for deliverance. Regardless of what their future is in Formula One, whether they continue or depart beyond 2021, the demand for success in the present remains.

    And Formula One itself will benefit from their gains in 2018 if there are three teams to challenge for regular wins, if not the throne itself. After all, Red Bull are no strangers to winning, though whether they remember how to execute this remains to be seen.

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    The Crowd Says (4)

    • March 14th 2018 @ 12:05pm
      Damo said | March 14th 2018 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

      As always hard to judge anything during preseason testing. Best guess of the big 3 is:
      Mercs are still the fastest (they didn’t even test the hypersoft tyre) but may have tyre life issues in long runds.
      Ferrari have the most rounded car.
      Red Bull have closed the gap to ferrari but may still have a disadvantage in straight line power/speed.
      We’ll see in Melb in a couple of weeks.

      • Roar Guru

        March 15th 2018 @ 10:03pm
        Jawad Yaqub said | March 15th 2018 @ 10:03pm | ! Report

        Qualifying will be the telling tale, to see how much closer Red Bull are to Mercedes AMG. We know that on the driver front, there are no weaknesses and both Max and Dan have the capacity to take it to the others. It’ll be how they ultilise the new tyres and see how much of a disadvantage, as you say, the straight-line deficit will be.

    • March 14th 2018 @ 10:19pm
      Scott Pryce said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:19pm | ! Report

      Its sometimes more effective to listen to the comments rather than read the stats from pre-season testing. Renault aren’t expecting much from any of their engines this season. I feel Torro Rosso is in the box seat with their driver line up and their coupling with Honda. Honda moving to Torro Rosso may have answered Renault and the FIA’s demand as to which engine supplier Red Bull will be aligned with for 2019, Max and Dan will drag Red Bull up the grid for another season but I don’t think they will trouble Mercedes and Ferrari, if anything Red Bull should be wary of little brother.

      • Roar Guru

        March 15th 2018 @ 10:01pm
        Jawad Yaqub said | March 15th 2018 @ 10:01pm | ! Report

        Mercedes seem to be talking up Red Bull’s chances too, with James Allison and Lewis Hamilton having come out and said that they could be in the mix as early as the first race.

        Yeah, its more than likely now that we’ll see Red Bull and Renault split at last for 2019 and allow Honda to enter and supply both Red Bull teams. Though as far as the present is concerned, Toro Rosso will be one to look out for this season!

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