2007 Team Review - Red Bull 21 Nov 2007
The pit-lanes self-confessed party team they may be, but above all else Red Bull want to be the toast of the pit lane for their results. And in 2007 they believed they had the right package to take a step closer to that dream. With a car designed by Adrian Newey, an engine supplied by title-holders Renault, and two of the grids most experienced drivers in Mark Webber and David Coulthard, many thought the same.
After being very nearly being outshone by junior team Toro Rosso in 2006, Red Bull needed some stronger results in 07 if they were to gain a firmer footing in the Formula One midfield. And with both brains and money on their side, the Christian Horner-led team were understandably touted as real contenders in the pre-season run-up.
It soon became clear, however, that the RB3 had problems. Fast it may have been, but without consistency the team struggled to make much of an impression. By June, Webber and Coulthard had notched up nine retirements between them and, like Toro Rosso, a great many of the cars issues could be traced back to the teams newly-introduced seamless-shift gearbox.
Competition in the midfield was tight too, and Red Bull faced stiff opposition from not just BMW Sauber and Renault, but also Williams, Toyota, Honda and even, on occasions, Super Aguri. All the same, the car was quick and when opportunity - and luck - were on their side, significant results were within reach.
Webber, for one, made a mark with several outstanding qualifying performances, while Coulthards fifth-place finish in Barcelona demonstrated just what the RB3 was capable of, if it could just get to the end of the race. In Spain Webbers didnt, thanks once more to hydraulic problems, and even Coulthard crossed the line only able to find fourth gear and above.
Keen to oust such gremlins, the team threw themselves into a massive programme of development. Former Honda technical chief Geoff Willis was brought on board to add extra muscle to Neweys design crew and the team tested at every available opportunity.
Together Webber and Coulthard notched up 64 days at the test track - much more than many of their competitors. Upgrade followed upgrade and gradually the hard work began to pay dividends. Red Bull even celebrated a double points-scoring finish - and their first (and only) podium of the year - at the European Grand Prix.
There was still the occasional glitch, like Coulthards early exit at Spa, while plain bad luck also played a big part in the teams results. Most notable of all was the collision between Webber and Toro Rossos Sebastian Vettel at the Fuji Speedway that cost both drivers potential podium finishes.
The result would have almost certainly helped Red Bull draw even closer to Williams in the constructors standings. Without it, they ended the season in fifth on 24 points, nine behind their British rivals. Nevertheless, it was a marked improvement on their 2006 record of seventh place and 16 points, and having ironed out most of the RB3s creases, the team can surely look back on this season as a positive step forward in their quest for success.