How Red Bull can ruf­fle more feath­ers this year

Motor Sport News - - Headline News - An­thony Rowl­in­son

Al­ready it’s a con­tender for ‘Green Room’ mo­ment of the year: Daniil Kvyat, grin­ning broadly at Se­bas­tian Vet­tel, in ro­bust de­fence of his lap one move at the Chi­nese GP that forced Seb into avoid­ing ac­tion and into Kimi Raikko­nen.

Re­gard­less of the mer­its of ei­ther man’s view of the in­ci­dent (and for the record I reckon Kvyat would have been re­miss not to go for the gap left by Vet­tel) the big­ger-pic­ture point is that Kvyat was there at all.

With team-mate Dan Ric­cia­rdo al­ready dis­ap­pear­ing up the road, hav­ing dropped Nico Rosberg at the start, Kvyat de­cided he also wanted some of the ac­tion. So he went and got it.

What this means is that Red Bull is back, big time. Not quite in the full world-dom­i­na­tion spec we saw from 2010-2013 (four con­sec­u­tive world ti­tle dou­bles), but it’s get­ting into that Mercedes-fer­rari mix and look­ing in­creas­ingly con­fi­dent.

It’s no sur­prise that RBR has turned out yet an­other great chas­sis in the RB12: the tech­ni­cal team is still led by F1 de­sign totem Adrian Newey, af­ter all.

But more en­cour­ag­ing is that the Re­nault-built, Tag-heuer-branded en­gine in the back end is much more like the real deal than it was at any point dur­ing a largely dis­as­trous 2015.

Any true rac­ing fan should re­joice in this: while RBR’S take-no-pris­on­ers style of rac­ing has ruf­fled plenty of feath­ers over the past decade, it re­mains a bril­liant, am­bi­tious rac­ing team, with a rare gift for fo­cus­ing on the job in hand – win­ning races.

That’s why, in­deed, re­la­tions with Re­nault turned so sour last year: Red Bull’s lead­ers, from the very top down, be­lieved their undimmed en­er­gies and ex­pen­di­ture were be­ing squan­dered by a sub-stan­dard Re­nault tech­ni­cal of­fer­ing.

All that ap­pears to have changed – and more quickly than many might have imag­ined. With Re­nault hav­ing bought back into F1 as a full works en­try, it can’t af­ford to com­pete with any­thing other than a highly com­pet­i­tive mo­tor, so re­source is be­ing di­verted back to Viry-chatil­lon en­gine HQ in a way that was no­tice­ably ab­sent in 2014-15.

RBR is feel­ing an im­me­di­ate ben­e­fit. Kvyat’s third and Ric­cia­rdo’s fourth in China were founded on pure pace, not some elab­o­rate counter-strat­egy. Ric­cia­rdo might even have won with­out his punc­ture.

So what should we ex­pect from the Cana­dian GP on­wards when Re­nault’s much-trailed up­grade comes on stream? Wins and, who knows, maybe even a late-sea­son cham­pi­onship tus­sle? That’s al­most cer­tainly bad news for the 2016 ti­tle am­bi­tions of Lewis Hamil­ton, who may find points-scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties re­duced by the pres­ence of blue and yel­low cars ahead. But you can ex­pect more wide smiles from the two Dans.

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