Sunday, 26 April 2009

Review So Far: Red Bull

Two headlines dominate any review of Red Bull's season so far and those are the breakthrough win for the team in Shanghai and their split diffuser beating pace amid so many complaints from other teams.

The source of the Adrian Newey designed Red Bull's pace early on was their ability to warm up the tyres in the wet conditions better than the rest of the field, in Sepang and Shanghai this was critical to the teams significant successes.

The team has developed clearly the best car of the field that hasn't exploited the split diffuser design concept yet. Newey has opted for a unique pull rod suspension layout that has so far paid dividends in giving them good race and qualifying pace.

In Sakhir Red Bull proved a challenge for Brawn in the dry, on another day with luck on their side Red Bull could be celebrating two wins in a row. Fantastic start to the season for the boys from Milton Keynes.

Mark Webber:
Pre-season preparations took a severe blow for the likeable Aussie when he broke his leg in a cycling accident. This restricted him to virtually no running in the significantly different 2009 spec Red Bull car putting him behind team mate Vettel before a wheel was turned in anger.

Despite this though Mark has had a strong start in a very good car. A poor start in Australia was followed up with a great drive once the rain began falling in Sepang and a fantastic supporting role in the Red Bull 1-2 in China before another difficult weekend after being blocked in qualifying for Bahrain.

Mark is driving quickly and strongly, but doesn't seem to be able to match his young German team mate. I think Webber may be heading down the career path of other likeable nearly men like Ricardo Patrese, David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello

However I see a debut win for Mark coming sometime this year and a good strong championship showing, but he will fall short of challenging Vettel for top Red Bull honours.

Sebastien Vettel:
A stunning showing last season has been followed up with a fantastic start to 2009 for the young German.

He has consistently been Buttons closest challenger, pushing Jenson hard in the season opener in Melbourne before tangling with Kubica, showing there is still some maturing for both of those young hotshots to do.

A difficult race in Malaysia after showing good pace in the race was followed up by the stunning lights to flag victory in the downpour of Shanghai, it was very reminiscent of that first win in Monza last year.

And Vettel again proved stunningly quick in Bahrain but got stuck in traffic at crucial stages in the race and ended up second to Jenson Button.

Vettel is proving himself to be a real talent and a genuine title challenger this year. He needs Red Bull to provide him with a strong car for the rest of the season and he will push Jenson and Brawn hard, but a lack of maturity may cost him in the end compared to the experience of Brawn, Button and Barrichello.

Rest of the Season:
Red Bull have certainly got wings this year and have every chance of pushing on for further wins and mounting a Strong title challenge. 

The typical Newey trait of a slightly fragile car may rear it's head and hurt Red Bull on occasion and I think they will just fall short this year, but second place in the Constructors championship should be achieveable if the new Diffuser works well when it is introduced.

Review So Far: Brawn GP

Well can there be a better sporting story than that of Brawn GP so far this year??

Born from the ashes of the Honda F1 team when the Japanese manufacturer pulled out of the sport suddenly before Christmas. Seemingly the team and staff were going to fold with no buyer coming forward. Until at the last moment a management buyout fronted by former Ferrari Technical Director Ross Brawn took over ownership of the team at the 11th hour.

Inheriting all the facilities and designs that Honda had worked on so far the work was far from done for Brawn having to crowbar in a Mercedes engine at the last minute.

Surely the team was going to be happy just to survive? But no, lo and behold at both tests they attended pre-season Brawn were the pacesetters and this continued for the first 2 races of the season.

Recently things have become more difficult with the renewed pace of Toyota and Red Bull in particular proving a challenge. Qualifying pace is the Brawns achilles heal at the moment, but so far so good for the new boys.

A dominant one-two in Melbourne, followed by a fantastic win for Button in Sepang in a shortened race. A difficult Chinese weekend with a car that lacked grip in the wet conditions. All followed by a truly marvelous Button victory in Bahrain when it looked like the honeymoon was finally over on Saturday afternoon, but brilliant Brawn strategy and faultless driving (combined with a little good fortune) made it 3 wins out of 4, top of both championships and a stunning start.

Jenson Button:
Without a drive and career seemingly over one minute, to 3 out of 4 race wins, championship leader and favourite the next. And they say football is a funny old game!

Jenson struggled a bit the last 2 years in comparison to his experienced teammate, but given a car worthy of his talents this year and Jenson is showing just how good he is.

Winning 3 very different kinds of races, a dominant from the front win in Melbourne, A fighting, brilliant wet weather drive in Sepang with some Schumacher esque laps in the dry and a fightback against the odds in Sakhir. Combined with a strong drive to third in the Chinese downpour.

If Ross and the team can give Jenson the machinery he will deliver a title, I am sure of that, this season we have seen the very best of Jenson, getting the maximum out of a good package with his silky smooth driving style.

Rubens Barrichello:
Finally a chance for Rubens to have a crack at the title in a car that is the class of the field with parity with his team mate?

Well you would have thought so, but after strong a 2008 and 2007 (compared to his team mate at least) Rubens has struggled to get the most out of the package this year. From a combination of bad luck and some scrappy races Rubens has had a lot more work to do on a Sunday afternoon than his team mate this year.

Undoubtedly the uncertainty of the team and his future didn't help, all the rumours of Bruno Senna waiting in the wings at the start of the season definitely have unsettled Rubens. 

I think it may already be getting to the stage of the game where Rubens gets asked to play that familiar role he did for so many years for Michael Schumacher.

I think this will be Rubens swansong from F1 this year and I'm certain he still has the pace to add a few final wins to his career total, but for Rubens it his job, one last time to be the excellent number 2 he has been so many times.

Rest of the Season:
Brawn haven't developed in the first few races as their rivals have... but they haven't to.

However the pack are closing in and arguably could already be ahead. The competitiveness of Brawns new package come Barcelona will be crucial to whether Jenson and Brawn can sustain title challenges.

Expect wins and podiums aplenty for the class act of 2009 so far.

Season Review So Far...

We have started this blog 3 races into the season, so a good place to start seems to be a review of how all the teams and drivers have done so far.

Keep an eye out for the posts over the coming days.


Well here it is, after too many years watching Formula 1 I've finally decided to put some of my thoughts on this great sportdown on paper (figuratively of course).

I have to admit I have been inspired here by a good friend of mine, Dominic J and his blog postings this year which are well worth a read ( http://creditfunch.blogspo

So about me, I've lived in the UK and followed F1 allmy life and will unashamadely support the brits just as the greats like Murray Walker always have done. Through my years watching F1 I have accumulated a lot of knowledge and understand the technical and sporting matters of a very complex sport.

I've watched videos and read books about every year of Formula 1, watching every race since my 7th birthday live, so I hope some of what I have to say makes sens for you.

Enjoy and leave some comments.