2 019 was a transition year for Red Bull. Away from Renault as an engine partner to Honda. The Austrian-English-Japanese alliance took on five victories. It turned into three. Max Verstappen also took two pole positions. The Dutchman sums up: “We are satisfied with our season. We made progress and Honda improved the engine. But we want more next year. ”
Then the next step should follow. Red Bull wants to compete with Mercedes for the world championship title. Honda has closed the gap to the other engine manufacturers. According to Red Bull's bill, the performance deficit on Mercedes in racing trim has shrunk into the single-digit horsepower range. Only Ferrari has more bangs. Ex-partner Renault is in last place.
Renault team boss Cyril Abiteboul disagrees: “According to our measurements, we and Ferrari have the most powerful engine in the race. Then comes Honda, and only then Mercedes. ”Mercedes sees it this way: Ferrari first, then you and Honda, then Renault. “The differences between Honda, Renault and us have become minimal. Only Ferrari still stands out, 'says the engineers.
The teams refer to GPS measurements. But there are variables that have to be taken into account: the downforce level, the condition of the tires. “The engine power is really difficult to filter out. In the race, the opponent sometimes has slipstream, benefits from DRS, attacks fully or protects the tires, ”explains Mercedes engine manager Andy Cowell.
Honda engine is kicking in Abu Dhabi
Red Bull paid Honda's engine development with some starting place penalties during the season. There won't be that many in 2020can allow more. But the engine is now on a good level. Honda is keen to get back to the top of Formula One. Red Bull also benefits from this on the chassis side. There are more test bench runs to which the whole car is also connected.
Only when the parts are pushed to their load limit can conclusions be drawn about their reliability. With Renault you didn't have this luxury in the past. With Honda, Red Bull has risen to become a works team, and no longer just a customer.
The Japanese six-cylinder turbo still bitches every now and then. In Abu Dhabi, Verstappen inhibited torque holes after the only pit stop. 'I had to drive around the problem,' reported the runner-up. “The engine mapping was misaligned for reasons that have not yet been clarified. As a result, the response has suffered. And there were problems with the engine brake ”, explained boss Helmut Marko.
A win would have been out of the question anyway. Second place on the last race Sunday of the year was the maximum for Verstappen and Red Bull. “Even without the handicap, we would not have beaten Mercedes today. We had a decent race pace, but they were faster, ”said Verstappen.
Red Bull has to be more consistent
The Dutchman lost a position to Charles Leclerc in the first round. With the super power of the Ferrari V6, the Monegasse surprised the three-time winner of the season on the back straight. A counterattack was out of the question. Instead, Verstappen spared his tires. Red Bull cracked Ferrari on medium tires over a long first stint. On lap 32, Verstappen attacked Leclerc on fresh hard tires.
Lewis Hamilton had already hurried by 15 seconds at this point. The world champion had no pressure. “I only had to get away from my pursuers at the beginning. Then I checked the race and managed the tires. I just had to stay outside as long as Max. ”To protect myself from a safety car.
The overwhelming superiority of the Silver Arrows was cemented by the fastest race lap. Hamilton took Verstappen in a battered RedBull almost two seconds off. Bottas almost stormed from last place to the podium.
Red Bull knows that they still have a lot of work to do to catch up in all relationships with Mercedes. No team understands the tires that well. No team makes so few mistakes. No team is as consistent as the world champions. Red Bull's performance still fluctuates too much. In 2019, a decent start to the season was followed by a high before the summer break, a low after the summer break and a final high.
Basic problem from Melbourne
The engineers were never able to drive the RB15 out of its basic problem. The aerodynamic platform is not as stable as that of Mercedes. 'We are still too sensitive to wind and temperature,' the engineers practice self-criticism. These are two construction sites that you want to clear up with the RB16.
The front wing regulations for 2019 caught Red Bull on the wrong foot. The cars in front of the RB15 had always been built on a strong front wing, which directed the air backwards and threw wake vortices so that the underbody was sealed. Red Bull broke new ground with the simplified wings. The engineers promise a great evolution. Next year Red Bull has to be able to win right from the start. “Then it should be a great season. There could be a close three-way battle between Mercedes, Ferrari and us. ”
The racing team from Milton Keynes doesn't just dream of the drivers' world championship. Red Bull also wants to race for first place in the constructors' world championship. For that you need a second strong driver besides Verstappen. Alexander Albon must take a step there in 2020. In 2019, Red Bull was a one-man team for too long. Pierre Gasly, who was replaced in the middle of the season, couldn't handle the RB15's excellent handling at all. Only Verstappen could do that.