After a fairly difficult start to the 2017 Formula 1 season Red Bull are set to introduce a huge revamp of the RB13 at the Spanish Grand Prix next month
The change in rules for 2017 had raised hopes for a title challenge from Red Bull, but Ferrari and Mercedes are the two teams currently locked into the Championship battle. Third place for Max Verstappen in China is currently the team’s only podium of the year and at this point, some 55 points adrift of Ferrari. Motorsport consultant Helmut Marko has said the blame for the teams performance lies in two places. One is the fact Renault have had MGU-K issues and are running the 2016 specification so far, the other is that the RB13 does not match the SF70-H or W08 Hybrid in terms of chassis performance.
“We have two problems: Renault had some reliability issues, which have slowed them down in the development; and we didn’t deliver the chassis that we should have done. But we are working day and night to pick up our shortcomings. We are pretty optimistic that we will make a significant step forward in Barcelona where a big change of parts is coming. The chassis will be ‘revamped’ in Barcelona and Renault is planning something for Montreal.”
– Helmut Marko
In Bahrain, Verstappen and Ricciardo were in the lead battle for the first part of the race and Verstappen was all set to undercut the Mercedes drivers before his brakes failed at turn 4. Verstappen believes the hotter temperatures compared to Melbourne and Shanghai suited the car, and in FP3 when the sun was beating down on the track Verstappen was the fastest, highlighting his own point.
“I was trying to push up to Lewis, and Lewis was pushing up to the guys in front and it seemed to work pretty well for us. The track was pretty hard on the tyres and that seems to suit our car really well.”
– Max Verstappen
Ricciardo cited that Massa’s pass on him following the safety car restart in Bahrain was probably down to a weakness Red Bull have with the soft tyres. Lewis Hamilton blitzed past him down the straight and was able to fight it out with teammate Valtteri Bottas and keep Sebastian Vettel on his toes. Ricciardo put this down to a lack of downforce on the RB13 compared to the Mercedes and Ferrari and potentially the Williams…
“When you look at a Mercedes or a Ferrari, we could just say they are able to get their tyres working well because they have got a lot more downforce and they are generating more [temperature] through the tyre. But the fact that Felipe passed me and pulled away in those first few laps is probably a bit of a sign for us.”
– Daniel Ricciardo
It would be naive to count Red Bull out just yet. Whilst the performance hasn’t matched their nearest rivals, we are only three races in and Red Bull’s development rate is potentially the best on the grid. Renault are certain to make progress too. All eyes will be on the updated cars on show at the Spanish Grand Prix.