Red Bull start 2011 season as the team to beat

2011 F1 season preview

Red Bull

Red Bull RB7 launch, Valencia, 2011
Car: RB7
#1 Sebastian Vettel
#2 Mark Webber
2006-2010 form: 7th, 5th, 7th, 2nd, 1st
2010 points: 498

Last year Red Bull were the team to beat.

But all too often they beat themselves through a combination of driver error and unreliability.

That didn’t stop them from clinching both championships. Can they do it again in 2011?

The RB7 continues the design philosophy of its predecessors: the double title-winning RB6 and, before that, the RB5. The latter was the fastest car at the end of 2009 and might have done even better had it not been for without the controversial double-diffuser ruling.

Technical director Adrian Newey has mastered the post-2008 overhaul of the aerodynamic rules better than anyone and that has been the foundation of the team’s recent success.

In Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber they have two of the fastest drivers over a single lap. Many times last year they were separated by just hundredths of a second in qualifying, often occupying the front row of the grid.

Although the world champion made some conspicuous mistakes last year he has youth on his side and the accumulation of experience will surely only make him a tougher competitor.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Barcelona, 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Barcelona, 2011

The team were tactically sharp throughout last season – remember Webber’s bold but effective strategies at Hungary and Singapore, and how the team got Vettel in front of Lewis Hamilton in Turkey.

That should stand them in good stead as they face up to hectic, three-stop (or more) races in 2011.

The early signs from testing are that the team have lost none of their pace over the winter.

All this makes for grim reading for their rivals. Where are the chinks in the champions’ armour?

Unreliability was a watchword for the team last year, costing Vettel at least three wins and an enormous amount of points. The team had their new car on the track earlier than usual this year and that may improve their early-season reliability.

Tension between their drivers spilled out onto the track in Turkey, costing them a potential one-two finish, and was plain to see at Britain and Brazil as well – although it didn’t stop them winning those two races.

At times the team plainly could have handled things better: switching front wings on the cars at Silverstone was guaranteed to foster resentment on Webber’s side of the garage.

This is still a young squad up against the likes of McLaren and Ferrari. The sense of resentment from the latter at being usurped by a soft drinks manufacturer was clear in some of their remarks to the media over the winter.

Can Red Bull continue to defy the establishment and keep a hold of their titles in 2011? Have your say in the comments.

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Images ?é?® Julien Leroy / firstlap.be, Pirelli

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47 comments on Red Bull start 2011 season as the team to beat

  1. VXR said on 4th March 2011, 17:44

    Red Bull are the team to beat. But each of their drivers have to master the new tyres. I’d put money on Webber to do that better than Vettel.

  2. RBAlonso (@rbalonso) said on 4th March 2011, 17:57

    Red Bull have proven that they are the perfect team for running one-two. I say this because the points that other teams gained on Red Bull came from when they were compromised from the start. The aero of last year’s car did not like to follow and the tactics on the pitwall did not help win that many races, even lost Singapore in many opinions.

    However, I agree that they are the team to beat judging on testing. But how will Vettel deal with the tyres and increased overtaking. If the tyres don’t work when it’s hot in qualifying for example but are perfect in the race, where does that leave them? Webber also is in a position of definite number 2 driver in my opinion and how he will deal with that pressure is a key aspect of the early season for me. Remember last year when, desperate to impress, he collided with Hamilton in Australia? The pressure got to him then and other times and I think that his mental state could be key to decide how the championship plays out.

  3. Palle said on 4th March 2011, 21:53

    If RBR turns out superior again this year, FIA will try even harder to develop a set of rules making life even more difficult for Newey. Maybe they must go back to F1 cars relying much more on mechanical grip and even less on aero to level out Neweys genius? Even though I’m a fan of RBR and Newey, I don’t think or hope that we are looking forward to a period of total RBR dominance for several years.
    What is important to get success in F1?
    Constructor (Car design, development over the season): 50%
    Team (quality, testing, strategy): 25%
    Driver lineup (Assisting in development, pole positions, aggressiveness, will to win): 25%
    This is just a basic shot at a very simplistic way of seeing it. You would put other percentages here of course – which and why?

    • DavidS (@davids) said on 5th March 2011, 5:25

      There are a lot of regulation changes in the pipeline for the next couple of years. New engines, a paradigm shift in aero.

      Regulation changes favour Red Bull more than they do McLaren and Ferrari. Those two teams tend to be top performers when the regulations are reasonably static. They have massive resources to throw at improving and refining the car to a point where it’s fast.
      They just aren’t as good as Red Bull when starting with a new set of rules and working out the best way of building the fast car.

      The dominant Ferraris and McLarens haven’t been radical designs, just simply the most refined and sorted cars on the grid.

  4. Tommy C (@tommy-c) said on 4th March 2011, 22:00

    “The team were tactically sharp throughout last season”

    except for the miserable failures in Australia and China. and don’t forget webber’s stupid pit stop timing in hockenheim. but on the whole, they weren’t too bad i suppose

  5. John Cousins said on 5th March 2011, 0:50

    First of all, as most people know I am a HUGE Webber fan so this might just be me getting my hopes up….

    On a couple of recent Webber interviews Mark has mentioned how a couple of car modifications over the the last season were “possibly” suited toward the other driver in the team. There has also been a mention of the new regulations (something to do with weight distribution within the car) making lighter drivers have less of a advantage than last year… If anyone has ever seen Mark stand next to Seb they will see how completely different their frames are. With often just 1/100th of a second between the two drivers last season, it will be interesting how things pan out.

    My impression of Mark is that he doesn’t like to make excuses and that if he mentions something it must be really playing with his mind. I think there is evidence to support that he got his head around the different driving style rquired for red bull’s aggressive “blown diffuser” quicker than Seb last season.

    It is all these little factors which makes F1 so interesting.

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