Red Bull has seriously underperformed in the first race of the season in Australia because of ‘lack of time’, sensitive car and a few kilos over the minimum weight limit.
In the first qualifying of the season, which is the first moment of truth of each new Formula 1 season, Red Bull was 1.3 seconds behind the fastest Hamilton and Verstappen had a lonely race in fifth place with no real chance for an attack on Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari.
Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko is disappointed with his team and believes that they “significantly underperformed” in the first race of the season.
“We know that we have underperformed significantly which is bad because Mercedes was not in top form either,” said Marko for Motorsport Total.
“We know that we have not achieved what was expected of us and what we expect from ourselves, but we are optimistic that in China and Bahrain will be better.”
Red Bull and Adrian Newey traditionally leave the production of new parts and assembling their cars in the last possible moment in order to have more time to develop their concept, but this year situation is more extreme than ever.
“We haven’t had enough time, our car arrived very, very late, as is always the case with our cars, but this time it really was the last moment. The mechanics worked all night before car flew to Barcelona [to the first preseason test].
RB13 ‘very sensitive’ to setup changes
Red Bull’s second pre-season test in Barcelona revealed how sensitive their car is to setup changes and that small changes can have large and unexpected results.
“Relatively simple changes have triggered unimaginable and unexpected consequences, the car was good for Ricciardo, but still we were more than second behind,” said Marko.
“It’s always a bad sign because we have then realized that we can extract the maximum performance only in a very narrow operating window.”
“The first improvements will arriwe in China, the new components will allow us to have more tunning options. So far we either didn’t have traction [lack of grip on the rear wheels] or we had understeer [lack of grip at the front wheels].”
Red Bull RB13 five kilograms overweight, just like Mercedes W08
For the first time in a long time teams have problems with lowering the weight of the car below the minimum weight, and it is particularly surprising that even top teams such as Mercedes and Red Bull have probems to lower the weight of their cars below the minimum weight.
Last year, the cars had to weigh at least 702 kilograms with drive, but due to wider tyres, wider bodywork and more aerodynamic devices minimum weight has been increased to 728 kilograms.
It seems that this increase in minimum weight wasn’t enough for the teams to have their cars below the minimum weight limit and achieve the minimum weight limit using the balast. Helmut Marko confirmed that RB13 is a little bit overweight at the moment.
“RB13 is still overweight,” admitted Marko.
“In Australia we were about five kilograms above the minimum weight. I can not say exactly because we tried out different parts whose weight varies more than one kilogram.”
“If Renault brings a new version of the MGU-K in Canada, the weight will drop significantly.”
From 2017., FIA introduced minimum weights for many power unit components – MGU-K must weigh no less than 7 kg and MGU-H can weigh no less than 4 kilograms.