2006 Team Review - Red Bull 10 Nov 2006
Away from the celebrity guests, Formula Una girls and a growing reputation as the paddocks partying team, Red Bull increased their commitment to competitiveness in 2006. With owner Dietrich Mateschitzs considerable coffers at their disposal and a troupe of experienced personnel led by Christian Horner, the team hoped to challenge the upper end of the mid-field in their second year.
By retaining veteran driver David Coulthard and rewarding Christian Klien with a permanent seat, Red Bull stabilised the teams driver line-up, whilst shaking up the garage with a switch from Cosworth to Ferrari power. Design guru Adrian Newey was poached from McLaren to spearhead their campaign, but with Newey only joining in February, the effect of the signing was always going to be minimal on their 2006 machine.
At the first race in Bahrain Klien finished eighth and, considering his RB2 had completed less than 20 consecutive laps during winter testing, it was an impressive beginning. Although Coulthard matched his younger team mates result in Australia, it was becoming clear the overheating problems that had plagued the RB2 pre-season were far from solved. As a result, the team not only failed to score any more points from the first six events, but claimed an unfortunate tally of seven retirements - just one less than newcomers Super Aguri.
Embracing the glamour of Monaco, Red Bull welcomed the stars of the new Superman film to the pit lane and characteristically made light of their poor form. In a throwaway comment, Horner promised to jump into the teams paddock swimming pool naked in the unlikely event they scored a top-three finish. As luck would have it, Coulthard drove a superb race to come home third to claim the teams first-ever podium and the Red Bull team principal paid his dues with little more than a Superman cape to cover his modesty.
The Monte Carlo podium proved to be Red Bulls best result of the year and as the season progressed, the team only finished in the points a further four times. Poor qualifying performances didnt help - at least one of their drivers failing to get past Q3 was a slightly too frequent occurrence - and in the races they were increasingly challenged by their junior stable mate, Toro Rosso.
By the German Grand Prix in July Red Bull had called a halt to development on the RB2, instead switching their attentions exclusively to Neweys 2007 machine, and in August announced Mark Webber would replace Klien next season. The confirmation effectively spelled the end for Klien who, after turning down an offer to drive for Red Bull in the US Champ Car series, was swiftly replaced by third driver Robert Doornbos for the remaining three races.
2006 was ultimately a year of disappointment for Red Bull, despite achieving their maiden podium. Scoring 18 points less than their 2005 tally and failing to improve on seventh in the standings was not what the team had expected. But with Renault engines, a Newey-designed car and one of the most experienced driver line-ups on the grid, Red Bulls investment looks set to pay dividends in 2007.
More 2006 team reviews - Renault, Ferrari, McLaren, Honda, BMW Sauber, Toyota, Williams, Toro Rosso, Spyker MF1 and Super Aguri.