Formula 1
Formula 1
28 Mar
Event finished
R
Emilia Romagna GP
18 Apr
FP1 in
2 days
R
Portuguese GP
02 May
FP1 in
17 days
09 May
Next event in
22 days
23 May
Race in
40 days
R
Azerbaijan GP
06 Jun
Race in
54 days
13 Jun
Race in
61 days
27 Jun
Race in
75 days
04 Jul
Next event in
78 days
18 Jul
Race in
96 days
R
Hungarian GP
01 Aug
Race in
110 days
29 Aug
Race in
138 days
05 Sep
Race in
145 days
26 Sep
Race in
166 days
R
Singapore GP
03 Oct
Next event in
169 days
10 Oct
Race in
179 days
R
United States GP
24 Oct
Race in
194 days
31 Oct
Race in
201 days
R
Australian GP
21 Nov
Race in
221 days
R
Abu Dhabi GP
12 Dec
Race in
243 days

The change that could help Red Bull banish its slow start trait

Max Verstappen’s victory in last year’s Formula 1 season finale in Abu Dhabi lifted hopes within Red Bull that it finally had a car that could push it towards a full-on title challenge in 2021.

The change that could help Red Bull banish its slow start trait

With F1's chassis regulations pretty much frozen in to this year, and the worst of the RB16's vices having been ironed out, there was good reason to feel optimistic about what could be possible in the final campaign of the current rules.

But lurking at the back of the team's mind was the well known historical trait that has characterised Red Bull's form over many recent seasons.

For Red Bull regularly finished each season strongly, got bullish after an encouraging winter, but then failed to hit the ground running at the start of the following campaign.

Then it would engage in a brilliant recovery and development drive to close the gap down to the front of the field – and finish the year strongly to begin the cycle again.

It is something that Red Bull's team management is well aware of. Last year, boss Christian Horner felt that, with there being so much carry over between the 2020 and 2021 cars, it would help it perhaps change its fortunes this year.

 "I certainly hope so, because it's not a start from scratch again," he said after the Abu Dhabi GP.

"It's the first time in F1's history [that this has happened], and it is why we called the new car, 16B, as opposed to 17, because there's so much of it that is carry over. Probably about 60 percent of the car is carry over."

But while it is true that the stable chassis rules will give Red Bull some confidence about the platform it has for this year, equally there remains a great deal of uncertainty about F1 2021 aerodynamics.

For with aero surfaces remaining free for development, plus new headaches caused by a change to floor rules, there still remains scope for some decent performance swings.

With aero performance having been a cornerstone of Red Bull's qualities over the years, that means nothing can be taken for granted about how it will stack up against Mercedes.

And that's especially true considering it is known that the team likes to be aggressive in the way it pushes for endless improvement – and will bring new components as soon as they possibly can.

It is that latter characteristic that could perhaps offer the best clue as to why Red Bull's seasons play out the way they do.

For the aggression in pushing hard with development, and gunning for more performance parts as much as possible, may well work in bringing lap time gain, but equally they could bring a downside too.

In constantly trying new parts, it means Red Bull is often chasing a new understanding of the platform it has on a grand prix weekend.

And if the new components don't deliver straight away on track, then it can leave a headache as to whether there is an inherent problem rather than just a set up adaption needed.

Speaking about whether the perception of Red Bull's slow starts was a reality, Max Verstappen said at the end of last year: "Well, it definitely looks like that.

"We know that we have to improve a bit in the beginning of the year. But I think yeah, with COVID, and then no track running which we depend on quite a lot, it didn't help our case.

"We had to rectify a few stuff. And yeah, then with so many races in a row, you lose a lot of points. And then retirements, that doesn't help."

That line about Red Bull relying on 'track running' is an interesting one, and would go some way to explaining why, as knowledge of the team's car expands, that its performance does come on.

Pushed a little on what he felt it would take for Red Bull to break its cycle of poor starts, Verstappen responded: "Maybe, like I said, I think we just depend a bit more on track running.

"So we have to find a way of making sure that what comes out of the wind tunnel works straight away on the car, and it's immediate, and puts us in the right direction. So we'll work on that."

Read Also:

The message seems to be quite clear: get the new parts working first time out the box and Red Bull won't lose ground against rivals who are better sorted early on.

To make sure that happens will not actually require it doing anything fundamentally different.

It is more about having a belt and braces approach of better methodology, ensure wind tunnel and track correlation is spot on, and not trying to run before it can walk in trying to eke out small improvement gains with new parts.

The end result should be that when Verstappen has a new front wing bolted on his car, he knows it works – rather than needs to find out if it does.

In the past, Red Bull has shown itself not to be afraid of changing the way it does things in the quest for results.

A few years ago it deliberately stepped away from an old desire to leave the development window of its new cars open as long as possible – as it felt that it had been held back by everything being so last minute for the first tests.

Now too, if Verstappen is right that key to it doing better is to ensure that new parts that hit the track work first time, then a similar subtle change of processes could be all it takes to deliver a very different result on track.

shares
comments

Related video

Monaco GP organisers insist race going ahead as planned

Previous article

Monaco GP organisers insist race going ahead as planned

Next article

Mercedes adds Frederik Vesti to junior F1 programme

Mercedes adds Frederik Vesti to junior F1 programme
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Red Bull Racing
Author Jonathan Noble
The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola Prime

The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola

After a pandemic-hit winter of seat-swapping, F1 kicked off its season with several new faces in town, other drivers adapting to new environments, and one making a much-anticipated comeback. Ben Anderson looks at who made the most of their opportunity and who needs to try harder…

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture Prime

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture

Aston Martin’s only previous foray into Formula 1 in the late 1950s was a short-lived and unsuccessful affair. But it could have been so different, says Nigel Roebuck.

Formula 1
Apr 10, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace Prime

Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace

Max Verstappen’s star quality in Formula 1 is clear. Now equipped with a Red Bull car that is, right now, the world title favourite and the experience to support his talent, could 2021 be the Dutchman’s year to topple the dominant force of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes?

Formula 1
Apr 9, 2021
Is Formula 1 as good as it has ever been now? Prime

Is Formula 1 as good as it has ever been now?

For many, many years Formula 1 has strived to do and to be better on all fronts. With close competition, a growing fanbase, a stable political landscape and rules in place to encourage sustainability, 2021 is on course to provide an unexpected peak

Formula 1
Apr 8, 2021
How Williams’ new structure adheres to a growing F1 trend Prime

How Williams’ new structure adheres to a growing F1 trend

Williams held out against the tide for many years but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, the age of the owner-manager is long gone

Formula 1
Apr 6, 2021
When a journeyman driver's F1 career lasted just 800m Prime

When a journeyman driver's F1 career lasted just 800m

Nikita Mazepin’s Formula 1 debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix lasted mere corners before he wiped himself out in a shunt, but his financial backing affords him a full season. Back in 1993 though, Marco Apicella was an F1 driver for just 800m before a first corner fracas ended his career. Here’s the story of his very short time at motorsport’s pinnacle.

Formula 1
Apr 4, 2021
How Raikkonen's rapid rise stalled his teammate's F1 career climb Prime

How Raikkonen's rapid rise stalled his teammate's F1 career climb

Kimi Raikkonen's emergence as a Formula 1 star in his rookie campaign remains one of the legendary storylines from 2001, but his exploits had an unwanted impact on his Sauber teammate's own prospects. Twenty years on from his first F1 podium at the Brazilian GP, here's how Nick Heidfeld's career was chilled by the Iceman.

Formula 1
Apr 3, 2021
The nightmare timing that now hinders Mercedes Prime

The nightmare timing that now hinders Mercedes

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton took victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix despite, for a change, not having the quickest car. But any hopes of developing its W12 to surpass Red Bull's RB16B in terms of outright speed could not have come at a worse time.

Formula 1
Apr 2, 2021