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Stable conditions favour Red Bull in 2013
Tuesday 05th February 2013, 13:25 by Daniel Chalmers
© Red Bull Racing, Getty Images
Red Bull is a team full of strengths but perhaps the one of the most important is their stability with all their star players still in place.
At the top of the tree the Milton Keynes squad have remained unchanged now for a number of seasons. The same can’t be said for the majority of their key rivals going into 2013. It shouldn’t be underestimated how much of an advantage that could prove to be.
Christian Horner has been team boss since Red Bull took over the former Jaguar team in 2005. He is now the second longest serving current team boss in F1 behind only Frank Williams. Christian’s contract has also recently been extended to 2017.
Car design genius and winner of 18 championships Adrian Newey has been with the team since the start of 2006.
Furthermore 2013 will be the fifth consecutive year that Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber have been team mates. This is the longest running driver partnership in F1 at the moment. Although there have been numerous rumours linking Seb to a move to Ferrari, it’s starting to look more likely that he might extend his current deal.
Horner said at the launch of the RB9: “We’re fortunate that we’ve been able to maintain continuity within our group. This is the fifth year that this driver pairing has been together. We’ve got continuity throughout all of the technical teams and all the key areas. I think that’s proof that there is a fierce determination to keep both of those trophies in the cabinet for another year.”
McLaren go into 2013 with a new driver combination of Sergio Perez and Jenson Button, after losing their star man Lewis Hamilton to Mercedes. Time will tell whether they can still challenge for the title without Hamilton’s electrifying raw pace. Chances are they could be lacking those extra tenths that Lewis can deliver when he is on top form.
Ferrari has been through various reshuffles in recent history to try and recapture their glory days. They went through a reshuffle after a poor start to 2009. There was another one in the first half of 2011, where Aldo Costa stepped down as Technical Director, and Pat Fry joined the team from McLaren.
They have now re-organised the team again to cope with the demands of running the 2013 campaign, as well as ensuring they are competitive in 2014.
They are currently using the Toyota F1 team's old wind tunnel back at Cologne whilst work is done on their own facility at Maranello, due to the inaccurate results it has given of late. Using another wind tunnel isn’t a disaster (accuracy should be far improved) but logistically it isn’t the best situation to be in.
Over at Mercedes there is even less stability. A number of good technical recruitments have been made over the past couple of seasons including the likes of Bob Bell, Geoff Willis and Aldo Costa.
However the team hasn't had a chance to settle down yet as more changes have been made, and maybe more to come.
Norbert Haug is no longer Mercedes' chief of motorsport, with Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff (from Williams) both joining. There continues to be debate about whether Ross Brawn will continue to work with the team.
Hamilton has replaced Michael Schumacher on the driver front, which is a huge positive if after all this current upheaval a quick car can actually be built.
Who knows what will happen next in what you could call the Brackley soap opera.
Quite a few of the changes that Red Bull's rivals have made in recent times, has been a case of reacting to their dominance.
Lotus is possibly the most stable of Red Bull’s likely title rivals. They have retained the driver line-up of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. James Allison has been their technical director since 2009, whilst Eric Boullier has been at the helm since 2010.
The team made significant strides during 2012 and with this newfound stability maybe they could be the ones to take the fight to Red Bull, which they will surely build upon in 2013.
F1 history shows how stability in the top ranks delivers results. The domination of Ferrari at the start of the millennium was in part down to the dream quartet of Jean Todt, Michael Schumacher, Rory Byrne and Ross Brawn sticking together for so long.
Speaking at Ferrari’s Maranello launch back in 2004 Brawn said: "One of the reasons we are able to progress each year is stability."
He added: "It is a stability that bonds the team during difficult periods, such as in 2003. But also a stability that allows us to grow from within.”
However once this quartet started to get split up at the end of 2006 the team became much less of a formidable force. Fast forward to 2013 and they are nowhere near the might they once were. There have been no titles since 2008.
You could say that the trio of Horner, Vettel and Newey are F1’s current dream team. If Red Bull were to lose any member of that trio they would be certainly be weakened.
Their rivals have to stop having reshuffles, try and get a bit of stability, and simply work much harder to stop F1’s current dominant force winning anymore trophies. Of course the other option is to try and poach one of them and split the trio up. That's easier said than done.
As mentioned earlier in this article Lotus look the team who are currently the most stable on all fronts (apart from Red Bull). Therefore it will be no surprise whatsoever if they emerge as one of Red Bull’s strongest challengers, once the 2013 season kicks off in Melbourne.
Another thing that hasn’t changed at Red Bull apart from personnel is how coy and secretive they are. At the launch the media couldn’t get anywhere near the car, couldn’t take photos, and WiFi wasn’t available at the area of the launch.
Once the event was over the covers were straight back on the car. This was certainly very frustrating for journalists specialising in the technical details of the cars. As you would expect they don’t want to give their rivals any sniff at where the secrets of the success lie.
Where other teams have been open about their intentions regarding passive DRS, Newey was predictably very coy on the subject.
In all likelihood the car that hits the track in Jerez will be very different from the one we got a very distance glimpse off at the launch.
What secrets are they hiding already?
The event felt very much like Red Bull going through the motions, ensuring they gave as little away as possible. The launch certainly won't have given Red Bull Racing great PR.
McLaren gave the media much better access at their launch.
However when push comes to shove which of those two teams would you put your money on to win the title? The one that showed their cards clearly for their rivals to see, or the one that kept them close to their chest?