Saturday, March 16, 2013

Engine Blood Team Profile: Red Bull-Renault

ESTABLISHED: 1997 as Stewart, rebranded by Ford as Jaguar in 1999 and finally becoming Red Bull in 2005.

HISTORY: Red Bull have made an amazing transformation in a relatively short space of time, from Coulthard-staffed also-rans to scarily precise winning machines, thanks in part to some hard bargaining for engines and the technical brilliance of Adrian Newey.  Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and Sebastian Vettel is doubtlessly The Man right now; it has to end sometime, but this season might be business as usual for the youngest treble champion in history.

1. Sebastian VETTEL (GER)
2. Mark WEBBER (AUS)

Well, why change?  Vettel is the treble world champion; Webber gets a couple of wins every year; Red Bull keep winning the constructors championship.  Unless an Alonso or a Raikkonen comes up for selection, it's a no-brainer to stick with this winning formula.  The main question is: where do they go from here?

Ricciardo and Vergne are being developed at Toro Rosso and Sebastien Buemi is still on the books as third driver, but who will move over for this young blood?  Webber looks increasingly precarious and only has a one-year contract, but if he performs his duties as backing vocalist ably that could be extended.  Vettel's only logical move with be Ferrari, which has been rumoured, but we doubt Alonso woul dbe too happy with that one.  With that in mind, we wouldn't be surprised to see this line-up again next season.

2012 PERFORMANCE: 1st place, 460 points.

Sebastian VETTEL (GER) 1st, 280 points.  Best finish: 1st, Bahrain, Singapore, Japan, Korea and India.
Mark WEBBER (AUS): 6th, 179 points.  Best finish: 1st, Monaco and Britain.

Vettel has a hard time attarcting plaudits, but this is the second of his three championships that he has claimed from a gloomy mid-season outlook.  His run of four consecutive wins in Asia brought him flying back into contention, and his amazing navigation of the chaos in Brazil put the seal on it.  Few would bet against him retaining this year, and he continues to be an engaging character and a great mouthpiece for the sport.

Webber never seems to get any better or worse these days, but such is the fate of a classic number two; he's firmly in the Barrichello mould of a couple of wins a season at present, but in 2010 the title was his to lose, so he's clearly got it in him to be a threat.  Of course, he DID lose that one...

2013 PROSPECTS: Championship challengers, barring major disaster.

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