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The mystery of Red Bull’s testing pace

Mar 4, 2013, 5:34 AM EDT

Sebastian Vettel

Are Red Bull in trouble or just keeping their cards close to their chest?

Their quickest time over the combined eight days of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya ranked seventh-quickest of the eleven teams. Just Williams, Caterham, Marussia and Toro Rosso were slower.

Red Bull usually play a cagey game in testing and this year they took that to even greater lengths. Three consecutive championship doubles mean their rivals scrutinize every move they make, especially at this critical time of the season.

When the RB9 ventured out onto the track in Spain the Red Bull mechanics awaited its return with screen and barriers to keep the photographers back. Mechanics jostled to keep lenses from getting a clear view of the car.

The team gave away little on the track. There were no headline-grabbing runs for fastest time. But in trying not to reveal too much about their car, did they create problems for themselves?

Sebastian Vettel admitted the team hadn’t got what it wanted out of last week’s two days of dry running: “I think it’s extremely difficult to pinpoint the exact area [we need to improve] as the tires are not consistent enough.”

But to a man those who watched the RB9s on the track reported they looked stable and swift. It did not look like a slow car, just one that was carrying a lot of fuel. And a full tank at this track carries a lap time penalty of up to five seconds.

So will Red Bull’s 2.4s gap to Nico Rosberg’s 1’20.130 flyer on Sunday be the cause for sleepless nights in Milton Keynes? Don’t count on it. As Vettel made clear: “Where we are now on the time sheet is not that important.”

Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic. Follow F1 Fanatic on Twitter.

  1. wallio - Mar 4, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    4th title in a row. Bet on it. One team always makes glory runs then fades. This year its Mercedes. They’ll finish 5th in the WDC tops.

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