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GP Week : Issue 147
There’s a lot to be said for life at the top of the Formula One heap. There’re the fans, the fame, and the fortunes to be made from the prize fund. And, as Red Bull discovered in the current round of Concorde Agreement negotiations, back-to- back championships can come with a few extra sweeteners. Of course, every silver lining has a cloud. And when it comes to success, the higher you climb, the further there is to fall. While Red Bull are hardly at the point of duelling with HRT at the back of the pack – Sebastian Vettel’s collision with Narain Karthikeyan notwithstanding – there is little doubt that the end of the Milton Keynes-based team’s era of domination has hit the racers where it hurts – in the ego. Last year, Red Bull were out-and-out dominant. Their car was faster on every track, and dominated 18 of 19 Saturdays in 2011. But their Saturday strength did not come about at the cost of performance on a Sunday. When it counted, Vettel was able to command the field from the front, pulling out approximately a second a lap until the young German was taking the chequered flag just as the back of the field was crossing the line at the end of their first lap. Or so it felt at the time. Early in 2012, however, the story is a little different. The RB8 is competitive, but it is not dominant. And the end of that era has led to something of a crisis of confidence in Red Bull, one that is visible on the faces of everyone barring Mark Webber, who appears to thrive in moments of adversity. Speaking to his employers the BBC after the Malaysian Grand Prix, technical analyst Gary Anderson pointed out what the whole paddock had been thinking – “all the way through the team, [Red Bull] are clearly not coping well with no longer being at the front.” The team feel unfairly victimised by the FIA, as two of the most serious rule changes to come into play over the winter specifically outlawed technology pioneered and mastered by Red Bull: the exhaust blown diffuser and the mind-bogglingly flexible front wing. But where in the past the team have been able to rewrite the rule book, turning disadvantage into advantage with a revolutionary new take on F1 technology, so far this year Red Bull are missing the magic bullet. Until they find it, expect the fun-loving racers to look a little more serious. RED BULL – FEELING THE PRESSURE? EDITOR: Adam Hay-Nicholls firstname.lastname@example.org ASSISTANT EDITORS: Naoise Holohan, Kate Walker F1 ANALYST: Peter Windsor MOTOGP EDITOR: Michael Scott email@example.com RALLY EDITOR: Martin Holmes firstname.lastname@example.org PRODUCTION ARTIST: Cedric Dufour PHOTOGRAPHY: Sutton Motorsport Images www.sutton-images.com Keith Sutton email@example.com: Mark Sutton, Patrik Lundin, Dirk Klynsmith, Emily Davenport PUBLISHER: Chris Lambden firstname.lastname@example.org PUBLISHED BY: Grand Prix Week Ltd 61 Watling Street, Towcester Northants NN12 6AG United Kingdom ADVERTISING: n Richard Partridge email@example.com Ph: + 44 1273 232 566 Mob: + 44 7771 567 644 n Mark Sutton firstname.lastname@example.org n Gaye Grinsted (WRC/MotoGP) email@example.com Ph: +44 (0) 207 254 8796 Mob: +44 (0) 7921 283 070 n Adam Hay-Nicholls firstname.lastname@example.org n SE Asia, Australasia GPWEEK (Australia) email@example.com .com WEEK 4 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS