The Red Bull Formula One team had a very strong 2016 season and were able to challenge the Ferrari team consistently. They also posed an occasional threat to Mercedes where Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen managed to bag a victory each to stop Mercedes from having a clean sweep. Ricciardo managed to finish the season in 3rd behind the Mercedes drivers. Verstappen ended the season in 5th, behind the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.
2017 brings about new rules and regulations which will undoubtedly be exploited to the fullest. It will also mark the first time that Max Verstappen spends a full season with Red Bull Racing. When the car was launched on the 26th of February, there were speculations that the team from Milton Keynes had already broken the rules. Former Jordan F1 car designer Gary Anderson declared that the first look of the 2017 Red Bull RB13 shows a clear violation of the design rules regarding the car’s front nose. Anderson was referring to the duct on the tip of the nose in particular.
“It feels like we are building momentum,” said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner to Sky Sports F1. “There is a feeling of real optimism within the team that if we can nudge a bit closer on the engine — chassis-wise we are hoping to come up with a good car to give our guys the tools to fight Mercedes. We’ve been quite good with regulation changes before, but nothing can be taken for granted. Mercedes will be the favourites, but if we can narrow that gap down and put them under a bit of pressure it would be great for everyone.”
Ricciardo and Verstappen already had some positive comments about the car and their prospects for the season. However, the team got off to a rocky start to their testing program. After completing just four laps, the RB13 stopped at Turn 3 due to a faulty sensor. Earlier in the session, the car developed issues with the battery energy charger, but the team were not worried. In fact, they dismissed it as safety measures.
“We stopped running because of some sensor things, and they were giving us some warnings. I guess, especially from the engine side, we are playing it a bit safe and making sure that we don’t do damage on day one. That is the main thing. For the last two hours we got some good running and hopefully that continues for the rest of the test. Hopefully Max [Verstappen] tomorrow does 200 laps.” said Ricciardo.
There were concerns over the Renault engine’s reliability because the Toro Rosso had ground to a halt in the test session. But Horner defended the French manufacturers by saying that all the issues were minor. He also dismissed claims that the problems were due to the car’s design around the engine.
On paper, it may seem that Ferrari has emerged as the main rival to Mercedes, but Red Bull are adamant that they have a few tricks up their sleeves