On the basis of pre-season testing, Red Bull Racing’s rivals ought to be scared – very scared indeed – of what the energy drinks-backed outfit might be capable of in F1 2011.
Not only does the team enter the forthcoming campaign as the defending double world champions, but Adrian Newey’s latest creation – the Renault-powered RB7 – looks to be every bit as potent as was its all-conquering predecessor.
Both Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber topped the timesheets at different stages over the four group tests spread across Valencia, Jerez and Barcelona, but the general paddock consensus is that the pair have been keeping their powder dry to an extent ahead of the opening of competitive hostilities in Melbourne at the end of the month, and that the real potential of the RB7 has yet to be fully witnessed.
On the evidence thus far, the main difference between the new car and that of last year is reliability, in that the RB7 has not generally been found wanting, whereas the RB6 frequently was, with that Achilles’ heel carrying over into the opening grands prix of 2010 and severely compromising Red Bull’s early title challenge.
Vettel has admitted that he is feeling ‘positive’ and that the team is ‘there or thereabouts’ on pace – what can probably be interpreted as the understatement of the year to-date – whilst Webber has ominously proclaimed RBR’s preparations as the best in the team’s short history.
Don’t be fooled by the modesty and eagerness to play down predictions in the corridors of Milton Keynes – Red Bull Racing remains very much in pole position for glory heading into F1 2011.
Crash.net World Championship Predictions
Sebastian Vettel: 1st (2010: 1st)
Mark Webber: 3rd (2010: 3rd)
Red Bull Racing: 1st (2010: 1st)