F1 Racing - - IN­SIDER -

A lack of chas­sis/en­gine co­he­sion has ended their four-year dom­i­nant reign

It’s been fun watch­ing Red Bull this rst half of the sea­son, if only be­cause a great golfer’s teeto-green reg­u­lar­ity is some­times less in­ter­est­ing than his abil­ity to rie a ball through a hole in the rough, around a tree and out onto the front of the green. We’re so used to see­ing Adrian Newey and the Red Bull in F1 Won­der­land that it was a shock, at rst, to see Seb Vet­tel strug­gling to make Q3 be­fore pack­ing his bags early.

Along the way, the team has opened up. The En­ergy Sta­tion pad­dock palace is less crammed with hang­ers-on and is thus a slightly more pleas­ant place to meet for a drink. And you don’t al­ways get thrown out when you si­dle in to see their lat­est in ‘garage tech­nol­ogy’.

Daniel Ric­cia­rdo is a good bloke. I spoke to him at Sil­ver­stone, con­grat­u­lat­ing him on his ex­cel­lent run of re­sults and his re­sponse was a mod­est, “Yeah, things are mov­ing along pretty well…” Nor does he give the im­pres­sion of be­ing af­fected by star­dom. He’s been a plea­sure to watch since the pre-sea­son Bahrain test. He was bril­liantly quick: a rev­e­la­tion. He’s an over­steer driver, but his ma­nip­u­la­tion of the back end is smooth and ow­ing.

Seb is his coun­ter­point. There’s a lot of con­jec­ture right now about whether this is be­cause Seb knew the best of the blown-dif­fuser era, and so has been late in adapt­ing to the looser rear ends of 2014, or whether Seb is just a tad slower. Per­son­ally, I think it’s the former, com­bined with the un­avoid­able im­pact of Seb hav­ing won four ti­tles. It doesn’t mat­ter how much he tells him­self he’s the same driver with the same mo­ti­va­tion: if the car isn’t a Merc then a lit­tle voice will al­ways say, “You’ve got noth­ing to prove. Drive to your limit. Your day will come again.” In other words, a free spirit like Daniel Ric­cia­rdo will al­ways do a bet­ter job of max­imis­ing a less-than-per­fect F1 car.

It’s been in­ter­est­ing to see how far out of bed Re­nault fell over the win­ter. Be­ing crit­i­cal, you’d

“Newey isn’t an en­gine-en­gi­neer. Thus Re­nault did their thing and he built his car around it”

say this is per­haps an Adrian Newey short­com­ing we’d never pre­vi­ously iden­ti­fied. Un­like, say, Pa­trick Head, Adrian isn’t an en­gine-en­gi­neer. Thus Re­nault did their thing and Adrian built his car around it. You don’t get the im­pres­sion that there were too many Head/Du­dot-type con­ver­sa­tions along the lines of: “But Rob, I want the fuel pump here and the turbo there…”

En­gine aside, Red Bull reached the half­way point shar­ing the best-car hon­ours, with Mercedes. Over­all, that’s re­ally not bad for a Re­nault run­ner. We can only spec­u­late about the speed of a Red Bull-Mercedes.

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