Formula 1 13 Feb 2007 03:28 pm

Red Bull and Mark Webber seriously slow in pre-season F1 tests

I’m very disappointed to note that, if pre-season testing is any guide to in-season form, Mark Webber is looking at another very tough year. The Red Bull Racing car has been slow and unreliable – and so far things don’t really seem to be heading in the right direction nearly quickly enough.

The following table shows information that I’ve condensed from F1 testing times recorded since 30 January – the first time RBR ran the 2007 car. I’ve shown information for each of
* McLaren (overall, the fastest team in testing to date)
* Renault (supplier of the RBR engines)
* Red Bull Racing.

The information shows:
* number of laps covered by the team on the day in question (sum of laps by both cars if two cars ran)
* team’s fastest time of the day (in seconds).

For RBR, I’ve also shown the speed deficit compared to McLaren and Renault. Keep in mind that a 2% deficit, if maintained across a race distance, would see RBR lapped on lap 50!

Testing results

[Click on the thumbnail to see the chart – it’s too big to fit in the 450 pixel format of this page.]

What does this tell us?

First: RBR is suffering from a lack of laps (due to poor reliability). Since the end of January, McLaren has covered nearly twice as many laps as RBR. RBR desperately needs to develop reliability so that they can increase their track time. Track time is needed to tune the cars to go fast.

Second: when the cars do run, they are too slow! At this stage, RBR seems to be levelling out at about 2% slower than McLaren, and 1% slower than Renault (same engine). On that basis, RBR will be lapped by McLaren at almost every race and will be more than half a lap behind Renault. Ouch!

Mark Webber, David Coulthard and the team will be hoping that megastar designer Adrian Newey can pull something out of the hat very soon. If Webber can’t get some real results (preferably podiums) on the board this year, his F1 career will be just about over, methinks, which would be a shame.

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