Judging by this years winter tests in Bahrain, Red Bull have a problem and they will have to solve it quickly if they are to avoid a poor season.
In 2009, Formula 1 witnessed the emergence of Red Bull Racing, before that they were little more than a party drink that only went racing because they had the financial backing of a drinks company, However since 09 they have dominated the sport, they missed out on the title that year but if it wasn’t for the magnificent start from Brawn and Jenson Button they would likely have owned that year as well, but from 2010 onwards they have had the best car on the grid and have had a solid team led by Christian Horner and with the design genius of Adrian Newey, they have been almost untouchable for the past few years.
Two seasons they have dominated, 2011 and 2013, both mainly down to the efforts of World Champion Sebastian Vettel, and the other two they also won but by more slim margins, the point is that this team have been the best team in the sport for the past 5 years and the stats certainly do not lie, Vettel and Red Bull have the most wins, the most poles and all the championships, The way they have gone about it hasn’t pleased everyone especially their treatment of Vettels team mate and self proclaimed ‘number two driver’ Mark Webber, some feel he was unfairly treated and that Red Bull favoured the German, in saying that though it is not much concern to the team as they went on to win everything before them.
However, with this short era of F1 coming to an end due to the massive changes in regulation it appears that the champions have had their moment in the sun, Sebastian Vettel and new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo certainly will be hoping that the car is better in time for the start of the season in just under three weeks time.
This years testing in Jerez and Bahrain revealed problems for the team with multiple reliability woes reducing them to limited track time. Renault, the engine and power train supplier to Red Bull already have said that they are a few weeks behind where they want to be, this is bad news for Red Bull but what is worse is that they are also having problems that are not related to Renault, the RB10 is generally quite a slow car by the look of things, if we look at the times from the test in Bahrain, Red Bull could only post the 15th and 17th fastest laps, do that in Melbourne and it is one out in Q1 and the other in Q2, not what we would expect from a team with the standards of success that Red Bull have, the last time they failed to get a car into Q3 was at the Brazilian GP in 2008.
With rumours that Infiniti, the teams title sponsor, are looking to end their sponsorship of the team when their contract runs out in 2016 and the possibility of a poor season this year could leave them in a tricky situation in terms of sponsorship although this is quite unlikely with the mass amount of links that Red Bull have as a company.
As for their main men, there has been talk linking team principal Christain Horner to becoming the replacement to Bernie Ecclestone when he eventually quits F1, although Horner has not said whether he is going to do that or not, as for Adrian Newey, could he perhaps see a move to another team as a good idea, with McLaren on the rise he could go back there or to another team instead, he may even be tempted by the idea of taking part in the Americas Cup sailing event, something which was speculated late last year.
And what for their four time champion Sebastian Vettel? He has for the past number of years has been linked with a move to Ferrari and even his ex teammate Mark Webber has said in the past that he expects Vettel to go to the Italian giants in 2016, he may want to go sooner if he is stuck with an uncompetitive car this year and if Red Bull were to lose Vettel that would surely put a dent in their hopes for carrying on their domination any time soon.
It is only pre-season testing and therefore it isn’t yet a crisis for Red Bull but they have to turn their fortunes around soon or else it could be a long and difficult future for the champions.