Having looked like they had got up to speed with close rivals Scuderia Ferrari and were even perhaps on a par with current leaders Mercedes AMG PETRONAS in a couple of races, the Red Bull Racing team has been somewhat off the pace of their competitors at the last two grand prix, and that is down to problems with tyre degradation according to Team Principal Christian Horner.
Having taken victory in the Spanish Grand Prix through Max Verstappen, and then dominating at the next round in Monaco, where they even managed to secure pole position ahead of both Mercedes drivers, Red Bull’s performance appears to have gone downhill ever since. The Monaco Grand Prix was a race the Milton Keynes based squad should also have won, and had it not been for the pit stop blunder from hell that denied driver Daniel Ricciardo from claiming his maiden victory in 2016, and first win in almost two years, they surely would have done.
The low downforce set-up in place for Montreal and also the more recent European Grand Prix, has caused havoc for Red Bull in terms of controlling their tyre wear, and it is this that is preventing the true pace of the RB12 from being fully realised, as Horner explained to F1i.com recently.
“I think by trimming the downforce so low the car is moving around a lot. It’s then damaged the tyre and it’s only when we got on to the medium tyre [in Baku] and the temperature dropped a bit that it has fallen into a window that it was happy with.”
The upcoming Austrian Grand Prix, a home race for the Dietrich Mateschitz owned team, could also be a stumbling block for Red Bull, as their current set-up is unlikely to need much tweaking in order to cope with the characteristics of the Spielberg circuit. Horner is hoping that engineers will be able to remedy the problem before they hit the track in front of fans at their namesake Red Bull Ring.
“I think Austria will be a tough circuit for us as well because it is again very power-sensitive. So we will run less downforce but we will try to work hard to understand these degradation issues. That’s the key for the next two weeks.”
If Red Bull can find a solution to the issues that are causing them to so easily destroy their rubber, it will hopefully allow us the joy of having a three-horse race up front, as they, Ferrari and Mercedes lock horns in a close fought battle until the end of the season – we can at least dream anyway!