Red Bull Racing is defending its claims that the FIA ban on suspension systems did not impact its performance at the Australian GP.
Although Red Bull showed an impressive pace out on the track in Australia with Verstappen setting the fastest lap at one point, the team’s performance did leave a lot to be desired. Their second driver Daniel Ricciardo was plagued by a late start to the race in which he managed to slip in laps behind the rest of the pack until he was finally taken out of the running due to mechanical issues.
Red Bull’s woes seemed to come out of left field for Ricciardo, prompting speculation as to what could have possibly gone wrong so suddenly to influence the car’s performance. This speculation has led some to assume that the FIA’s recent ban of sophisticated systems has forced Red Bull to opt for a suspension package that it hadn’t tested as rigorously during the pre-season.
Red Bull Team Boss Christian Horner has denied such speculation, claiming that the team wouldn’t have run the set-up even if it was legal:
“The suspension system that was outlawed was something that we looked to develop over the winter. And, to be honest with you, even if we had the ability to run it, it wouldn’t earn a place on the car because of the weight involved.
We are running effectively as we’ve run in previous seasons.” – Christian Horner
Horner went on to say that although he acknowledges that the team is lacking the pace of top dogs Ferrari and Mercedes, he still firmly believes in the direction the team has decided to take in their development:
“We definitely had the third quickest car here and we’ve got to find a good half a second to get into that fight with the cars ahead. It’s still early days. The regulations are still very immature.
We’ve chosen a different concept. I believe there’s really good development potential in the concept that we have. I’m sure that we can build on this over the coming races.” – Christian Horner
The difficulty in finding half-a-second of untapped potential in the RB13 package is that Mercedes and Ferrari aren’t going to be sitting on their hands. They’ll be developing their cars too, so what Red Bull really need is to develop the car at a quicker rate than the two ahead. That’s a tall order, but not impossible given the strong technical department the team possesses.