The dominant team in Formula One over the last few years, Red Bull go into the new season chasing a remarkable fourth straight title.
With cars that have suited Sebastian Vettel to a tee, and one of the sport’s all-time great designers in Adrian Newey, Red Bull have become a force not seen in F1 since the days of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari in the early 2000s.
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Red Bull last season. The team struggled to extract their car’s full potential for a large part of the year, and it was only in the latter stages that the RB8 became the car to beat, allowing Vettel to take four straight wins and become only the third man in history to win three successive world championships.
Red Bull have maintained a relatively low profile in pre-season testing and have a history of leaving it as late as possible to show their hand, so it’s difficult to tell exactly where they stand at the moment, although with the RB9 looking to have good balance and plenty of downforce, it is hard to see them not running near the front in Melbourne.
1) Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel made history last year. By sealing the world championship in Brazil, he became the youngest triple world champion in Formula One history and only the third man ever to seal three titles on the bounce.
Add that to the records he holds for youngest driver to take pole, youngest winner, number of poles in a season and several other achievements and here is a man well on the way to rewriting the sport’s history books.
Despite Vettel’s many achievements however, doubts still remain over the German’s true ability, and questions have been raised over how much his success is down to the car designed for him by Adrian Newey.
No matter what doubts there are however, no-one can say that Vettel isn’t a supremely talented racing driver, and if he can clinch a fourth straight title this year it will go a long way to silencing any critics that the 25-year-old still has.
2) Mark Webber
This year could prove to be the last serious opportunity Mark Webber has of winning the Formula One world championship.
At 36, Webber is the oldest driver on the grid and having played second fiddle to Vettel for the last four years, he will be itching to finally get one over on his world champion teammate.
Webber has shown that on his day, he has the speed to match anyone, but the Australian has struggled with consistency, which has caused him to fall behind in the points standings.
If Webber can find that consistency to match his speed however, he could well prove to be more than a match for Vettel, and with potential competition from Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne for his seat in 2014, all the motivation for him to produce his best season in Formula One is there.
Hopes for the season
The aims for Red Bull this season speak for themselves. Having achieved three straight drivers’ and constructors’ titles, anything less than another championship will be seen as a disappointment in Milton Keynes.
Although the new car hasn’t shown its real pace at all during pre-season testing, the RB9 looks reliable, handles well and looks to have followed in its predecessor’s footsteps in having a large amount of aerodynamic grip.
All that bears the hallmarks of an incredibly competitive racing car, and with Adrian Newey hardly having a glittering history of producing duds, it is hard to see how Red Bull won’t be right in the mix from the very start of the season.
With all that in mind, things are looking very promising for Red Bull to add to their remarkable run of success over the last few years.