Sunday, September 27, 2020

1 Racing Mind’s 2020 Formula 1 Mid-Season Team Report Card: Red Bull Racing

Photo Credit Bryn Lennon/Getty Images through Red Bull Content Pool


Team Grade: B

Driver’s Grade:

Max Verstappen: A

Alexander Albon: B-

Summary of First Nine Races:

Since the Formula 1 series adopted the current turbo/hybrid power unit layout in 2014, Red Bull Racing has been fighting to regain its dominance that made the team an imposing threat to win everything during the early 2010s. With the super-talented Max Verstappen and dependable power from Honda, Red Bull Racing reached the point last year where it could easily threatened for podium as well as the odd race win against the Mercedes-AMG F1 team. That being said, the Austrian-based race team has been missing key elements in recent years to mount a full charge against the Silver Arrows (or Black Arrows in 2020).

Competing with Mercedes once again in 2020, Red Bull Racing also faced a new threat from Racing Point through much of the grand prix this season. With a driver lineup consisting of Max Verstappen and Thailand’s Alexander Albon, Verstappen has been the leading source of performance with the squad. The highlight in the first nine races for the 2020 season was winning the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix held on the Silverstone Circuit. Taking advantage of the Mercedes-AMG F1 team’s tire wear issues at the Silverstone race course, Red Bull and Max Verstappen may have arguably had an opportunity to win the British Grand Prix under similar circumstances. At one point second in the drivers’ championship, Verstappen’s more recent races have resulted in him being overtaken by Valtteri Bottas. 

Installed in the second Red Bull Racing car last year at the Belgian Grand Prix, Alexander Albon has been under great pressure to perform in 2020 especially after Max Verstappen’s win at Silverstone. Albon has almost scored a podium finish on two occasions in his career with one of the closest and most crushing failed attempts being the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix. Running second with two laps remaining, Alexander Albon was knocked out of a podium position due to an aggressive, mistimed pass attempt by Lewis Hamilton. 

With a fourth place finish at the Styrian Grand Prix and two additional fifth place results over the course of eight races in the 2020 Formula 1 season, Alexander Albon scored his first podium finish at the Tuscan Grand Prix behind the two Mercedes-AMG team cars. The third place result for Albon appears to have provided some relief to the Thai driver. Prior to the podium, parallels could have been drawn between Albon’s 2020 performance with Red Bull Racing and Pierre Gasly’s 2019 efforts ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix. 

Considered the best non-Mercedes powered race car for 2020, Red Bull Racing’s RB 16 has been a consistent performer in qualifying and race scenarios. In five races, Max Verstappen qualified third behind the Mercedes machines of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Along with the Red Bull Racing team’s victory at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, the RB16's engineering also contributed to AlphaTauri’s AT01 that won the Italian Grand Prix. Only three vehicle-related retirements can be linked to the RB16 with electronic issue leading to both cars retiring at the Austrian Grand Prix and a power unit failure for Verstappen at Monza.


Prediction for Rest of the 2020 Season:

Competing against the Mercedes-AMG F1 team that has demonstrated outright superiority in the series since 2014, Red Bull Racing has proven itself capable of breathing on the neck of the German squad on occasions this season. A well-built race car with decent Honda power and a competent driver lineup may be able to steal a few more race victories from the Mercedes when given a chance. 

Red Bull Racing will have to overcome some recent bad lack heading into the second half of the 2020 Formula 1 season. Prior to the podium at Mugello, Alexander Albon finished 15th sustaining damage after an early race collision. Max Verstappen is arriving in Russia with two consecutive retirements causing him to lose ground to the Mercedes drivers in the season standings.

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