Red Bull is lamenting the limited role that can be played in 2012 by F1’s aerodynamic genius Adrian Newey.
For the past few years, the energy drink owned team has enjoyed its dominance largely because of the airflow magic wrought by Briton Newey. But in 2012, with reigning back to back world champion Sebastian Vettel just one of the five different winners so far, Pirelli rubber is king.
“I doubt Williams really know why they were so strong,” team boss Christian Horner, referring to Pastor Maldonado’s shock Barcelona pole and win last weekend, is quoted by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.
Horner insisted that, rather than the winner being the team with the best overall package at each race, success this season is about “understanding the characteristics of the tyre and the window in which they work”.
“It’s not that the midfield teams have made a quantum leap aerodynamically from last year to this year,” Horner insisted. “But from a performance point of view, this is what they have done.”
The logical conclusion is that aerodynamic cleverness has taken a back seat. So will Red Bull knock a million or two off Newey’s huge annual retainer?
Horner laughed. “Adrian is not just an aerodynamicist, and aerodynamics are still important anyway. But now it’s about harmonising everything, and these tyres are simply remarkably complex. Two races ago Nico Rosberg dominated, but in Spain he was almost lapped. It is very difficult to predict what’s going to happen next — a nightmare for the bookmakers,” he smiled. “A lottery.”
The situation has split F1 into two camps: those who love it, and those who do not.
“It has become like a GP2 championship,” Maldonado, the junior category’s 2010 champion, is quoted by The National newspaper. “The drivers can make the difference and the teams can still work on the strategy and the car.”
The bizarre situation has left everyone scratching their heads, like Jenson Button. He can scarcely believe that what looked a championship car – his 2012 McLaren – was beaten in Spain by Shanghai winner Nico Rosberg, who was almost lapped.
“The Red Bulls did a better job at the weekend than us in terms of points, but still they weren’t quick when you compare them to Williams, Sauber, Lotus and Ferrari,” he told PA Sport. “Five different teams winning five different races, we really don’t know what’s going on, and I think that’s the same up and down the pitlane.”