Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Red Bull pinpoint problem areas ahead of Malaysian Grand Prix

Formula 1

Sebastian Vettel finished third in opening Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel finished third in opening Grand Prix

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is content his team has the platform to land their fourth consecutive Formula One world title.

 

Sebastian Vettel had to settle for third in Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix, despite blowing away the field in qualifying to land his 37th career pole position.

The race pace of the RB9, however, was found wanting, with Horner claiming his team was unable to generate that out of the Pirelli tyres and given the cool conditions at Melbourne's Albert Park.

It might not have been the perfect start for Red Bull and Vettel, but, given their renown for their rate of development over the course of a season, Sunday was an ominous warning for their rivals.

Asked as to where it went wrong for Vettel in Australia, Horner said: "One simple word - tyres.

"For whatever reason, we didn't find the optimum window with the tyres given the conditions. We were just a bit out.

"After Seb had built up a lead on lap four or five it became apparent the car was pretty heavy on the tyres, which forced us to go down the route of a three-stop (strategy).

"All things considered, third place was actually a very good result given Kimi (Raikkonen) and Lotus was the only driver-car combination that made a two-stop work.

"But there were plenty of positives - we qualified on pole, we know we have a quick car which is also competitive.

"So nobody in the team left Australia despondent or disheartened by the race.

"We had a very solid weekend - it's just that we found ourselves out of the window (with the tyres) in the race."

Horner insisted Red Bull's issues in Melbourne were related to set up rather than anything inherent in the car.

So this weekend's race in Malaysia, where conditions will be hot and humid, will pose a different problem for Horner.

"There are a lot of lessons learned from Australia that will hopefully be relevant for cool races in the future," Horner said.

"Although we're only going to get a true picture of form after four or five races when we've gone to different venues, different tracks and asphalt surfaces.

"At least we have a quick car, which is the first thing you need. After that, you then have to make sure that car uses the tyres correctly."

Even Vettel has conceded the team "has some homework to do" with regard to the tyres, and, although unhappy at not securing the win from pole, knows he is again in the hunt for another crown.

"This year the car seems much more balanced and I'm much happier, in a much happier place," Vettel said.

"We can be happy with the pace we showed all weekend. The car left a very good impression, and the whole team operated very calmly.

"Considering it was the first race of the season we seemed to just continue where we finished last year."

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