Red Bull hoping home territory can continue to break Mercedes dominance
It would be fitting if Red Bull were to put in a great performance when the Austrian Prix makes its return this weekend. It’s ten years since Austria staged a Grand Prix and it was the Red Bull team who helped reach agreement with Bernie Ecclestone to get them back on the F1 calendar. The race takes place at the Red Bull Ring, formerly the A1-Ring before the team purchased it. Despite some recent improvements can Red Bull mount a serious challenge this weekend?
It’s anticipated that the layout of the Red Bull Ring may be another severe test for the new power units. Multiple straights, just three heavy braking zones and a low number of corners make the track similar to that seen in Montreal. According to Renault half a lap will be spent at full throttle. Combine all that with high altitude and hardware really does face a tough task this Sunday. It could all make for a very interesting race and again that Mercedes supremacy we’ve seen this season might be in a spot of bother.
With this being the first Austrian Grand Prix for a decade, it also means the vast majority of drivers will be racing on the track for the first time, only four have race experience in Austria. That doesn’t include either of the Red Bull drivers and the fact the course is named after the team doesn’t mean this is a home game for them.
It’s been an up and down season for Red Bull so far with a mixture of success, arguments and disqualifications. For reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel it’s a season in which he definitely finds himself in an unfamiliar position. Not just failing to mount a challenge for the world title but playing second fiddle to his new team mate.
At this time of the year he usually has a healthy lead that turns into another world title. This season he’s failed to make the top two in any race let alone win one and is currently a massive 80 points behind leader Nike Rosberg. Red Bull doesn’t seem to be a happy camp when it comes to the performance of Vettel this season and that includes the problems in China when he wasn’t in the mood to obey team orders. That led to Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s motorsport adviser telling the World Champion to adapt his driving and stop moaning about his car and this season’s new rules. There was even a debate on Sky F1 this week discussing if Vettel is really as good as we all thought he was. Back to the old, did the car or the driver win all those titles?
The bright spot for Red Bull this season has been the form of Daniel Ricciardo who won his maiden Grand Prix in Canada. The former Toro Rosso driver has been a model of consistency this season regularly finishing in the top four and ahead of his illustrious team mate. Something guaranteed to make Vettel even grumpier if the trend continues into the European section of the title race.
Red Bull may not have the dominance that they have been enjoying in recent years but at least they’re still a clear second in the Constructor’s Championship this season. They trail Mercedes by 119 points though and might need a few more double point races if they want to keep that title.
As the season progresses though they are becoming more consistent and if Mercedes struggle as they did in Canada then there could yet be a few twists and turns this season, perhaps starting on their home track.