Following the launch of Red Bull’s fourth car to compete in Formula One, the second under the direction of technical director Adrian Newey, Red Bull have also confirmed Sebastien Buemi to the official test and reserve driver role. Buemi, who replaced Michael Ammermuller last year at some sessions will combine his duties with Red Bull with a drive in the GP2 series. The team also spoke to the media about their new car and the future prospects for the team.
I am delighted and thank Red Bull, which has supported me in the lower formulas since 2005. I will do my best to concentrate on combining my GP2 racing commitment with my duties for Red Bull Racing and I am looking forward to the year ahead. Sebastien Buemi.
Adrian Newey insisted that the squad have made no compromise with the pace of the car in a bid to overcome the reliability issues they suffered in 2007, saying that the development pace has continued over the winter and the battle to find speed is just as aggressive as it was previously.
I don’t think the reliability problems came as a result of chasing performance. They came through detailed design, manufacturing and operations faults. And the reliability systems couldn’t cope. We haven’t had to make any compromises in that respect. It is just a matter of understanding why things were failing, and what was breaking down in the system to cause them.
The RB3 was a completely different car to anything that had come out of Milton Keynes before. And that, in a small part, contributed also to our reliability and operations difficulties. This car is very much an evolution of RB3. There are very common parts, but the concept and principle of the car is the same. It is an evolution, so it will make it easier for the team this year as they have learned how to work with it. Adrian Newey.
Team boss Christian Horner was also buoyant that his squad have made progress, citing the improvements they made in the latter half of last year, and aiming to pick up at the start of 2008.
We were competitive in the final three races of last year and we’ll be looking to start from that point with the new car. Ferrari and McLaren are obviously going to be extremely competitive again and are the benchmark, and then I predict a pretty tight group thereafter, which will hopefully consist of ourselves, BMW, Renault, probably Williams, and who knows with Toyota and Honda.
We’re confident we’ve made good progress with this car. How good? We’ll see in Melbourne. But we’re happy with the progress that we’ve seen over the RB3. Christian Horner.
Cautious not to hype up their chances though, the team management were reluctant to make any predictions for 2008, instead insisting that they have improved, had a smooth and trouble-free winter and are looking forward to the first race in March.
We expect a step forward but I am not willing to put a number on it. Adrian Newey.
Mark Webber remained optimistic despite having his fair share of the unreliability problems in 2007. The Australian, who is entering his second season with Red Bull, spoke of not missing out on points due to a fault with the car and chasing BMW for the best of the rest title.
We want to start with a faster car if we can, because if you start with a quicker car that’s a good position to start the championship in. And we want to get a lot more points than we got last year. We missed a lot of points through retirements, with mechanical problems so we’ll see if we can get some of those points back.
I think we are chasing BMW, but it could be for third or seventh. They could produce a lemon. You could be seventh. You never know in this game. It’s very difficult to say. We won’t know until the first race where everyone’s cars are. I think we can hold fifth position [in the constructors championship], but to be fourth? It’s a big step for us. Mark Webber.
The team seem to be a little cautious, but this could simply be down to clever management of hype and predictions. Honda famously used to generate some wild aspirations at their launches, only to find two months later that they had “produced a lemon”. It will be interesting to see how the Red Bull fairs up next to the other cars, and of course we are still waiting on the Renault and Williams to be launched.