March 12th, 2014 (F1plus/G. Polychronis).- ‘In the Limelight’ is a segment conducted before each race weekend and is designed to focus on a specific aspect or aspects of the Formula One world. It places an emphasis on the expectations and/or pressure that certain drivers or teams may be carrying ahead of the Grand Prix. In the limelight for the Australian Grand Prix, is Red Bull Racing.
Preseason testing, in both Jerez and Bahrain, saw Red Bull Racing struggle to find a race-winning configuration.
In the four days of testing in Jerez, RBR only managed to complete 21 laps. This is a horrendous statistic, as whilst the RB10 was cooped up in the garage, the team’s competitors were acquiring valuable information about their own cars, thus gaining an advantage over Red Bull.
Perhaps testing in Bahrain would prove to be more fruitful. It was not. In the second test (Feb 27th - Mar 2nd) at Bahrain International Circuit, the RB10 completed a mere 182 laps. To put that in to perspective, the most laps completed was 438, which was achieved by Williams.
Sebastian Vettel reiterated his team’s problems:
“It's just a bloody difficult time because it's a difficult car to work on. Right now it's impossible to have any expectations. It's hard to know where we are but it's fair to say we're not favourites to win in Melbourne.”
The engine appears to be RBR’s main problem, and after reviewing the testing sessions in Jerez and Bahrain, it is evident that Renault powered teams are struggling the most with the changeover from V8 engines to turbo-charged V6s.
All Renault powered teams were in the bottom half of the standings for most laps completed in Bahrain.
Although it is unfair to solely judge a team based on their testing results, it is essential that teams send their cars out for as many laps as possible, especially as reliability is expected to be a major factor for race results this season.
The Australian Grand Prix will prove to be an intriguing one, and we could see many retirements, as Christian Horner expressed:
"I think you could see a very high retirement rate, maybe even 50 per cent in the first race.”
If Horner’s predictions are correct, we will be seeing the re-introduction of good old, unpredictable racing, which will thus yield an unpredictable and exciting season; something that Formula One fans have been deprived of for too long.