As Adrian Newey, technical guru behind the vastly successful Red Bull Racing operation, talked about being somewhere between “mild panic and crisis management” during last night’s AUTOSPORT Awards, the world of Formula One was finally awakened to the mountain that is the 2014 regulations.
If an operation like Red Bull is left unsure of their fate for the next season, one in which the most robust and intricate regulation changes will be introduced, then what of the small outfits like Marussia, Caterham and Sauber, the ones that barely have enough cash to pay their drivers, or such minute funds that they have to be paid by their drivers?
First off, there is a relatively reasonable explanation for Newey’s remarks yesterday. Despite the depth and breadth of their technical department, Red Bull are not impervious to the pitfalls of over-development. In a bid to defend their two titles in 2013, Red Bull went above and beyond in their development program.
While the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus haven’t turned on their wind tunnels since about September, Red Bull developed until the very end to stave off any surprise challenges at the end of the season. These assurances, though, mean that the world champions are less prepared for the challenges to come in just two month’s time, when the first preseason tests commence.
The extent of Red Bull’s unpreparedness was revealed by Newey, the squad is six months behind schedule. That means in order for Red Bull to emerge as the team to beat in March, they need to work harder than they have ever worked before. But, that doesn’t mean that the likes of Mercedes, Lotus, Ferrari and Mclaren wont’t be working any less hard. Red Bull’s challenge of overcoming a tight schedule and its pursuers cannot be underestimated.
In all likelihood, Red Bull will be on schedule for the first test in late January. They wouldn’t risk missing such a crucial birth for its new car, especially since reliability could and probably will be one of the determining factors in the championship. The countdown has begun, and Red Bull is racing to catch up.