Five reasons why Red Bull may not win a fifth straight title

© F1 Pulse, 19 December 2013
© AP Photo/Luca Bruno

Over the past four years, Red Bull has stamped its dominance over Formula One, particularly after its lulling display during the 2011 and the 2013 seasons. It’s easy to bet that this momentum would roll over in 2014 as well although there are no guarantees. There have been several signs that changes at the top of the order are afoot…

1. EBD PUT TO BED; REGULATION CHANGES

© AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo

One of the prime advantages that Red Bull could elicit from its car was the downforce created by the exhaust-blown diffuser, coupled with Sebastian Vettel’s ability to adapt to it. With exhaust clampdowns in 2014, the world champions could be severely handicapped. For details, click here. Further changes in regulations, could hamper Red Bull’s run as well; particularly the shorter width of the front wings, another area where Adrian Newey has honed his wizardry.

"That's a shame and a danger that if the regulations continue to become ever more restrictive we'll eventually get the point where the car's more or less designed by the rulebook," Newey told Autosport recently. "You'll then have, effectively, GP1 cars where the differentiators are the engine and the driver. For me, it's not Formula 1."

2. VETTEL THINKS SO

© AP Photo/David J. Phillip

"Remember these days... there’s no guarantee they will last," Vettel said over the radio after he crossed the finish line in Austin to register his eighth win in a row. It could have been a likely hint that his dominant days were numbered although the German dismissed that notion suggesting 2014 was an unknown.

"I’m sure we will push very very hard and I’m sure we will fight a lot to maintain our position but there’s no guarantee that next year will be like this year," he had said. "With the new regulations coming in, I think nobody really knows where he will stand. You will have the big teams in front but the question is who and the question is also in terms of gaps... It’s unknown at this stage but generally I think we need to remember and therefore enjoy the moment and the days we’re having."

3. NEWEY IS AFRAID, VERY AFRAID

© AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo

"I think from our perspective it is somewhere between mild panic and crisis management," Newey had joked during the Autosport Awards earlier this month, referring to the team's preparations for next year. "We would have been quite happy to stay with the (old) regulations as it turned out."

Newey also wanted the minimum weight of the car revised for next year, suggested that the technical guru may have been struggling in the design process adding further to his trepidation.

The EBD restrictions and the next two points are enough to worry Newey.

4. RED BULL TECHNICAL TEAM WEAKENED

© AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos

Red Bull has lost several members – including key personnel - from its technical team to its rivals. Earlier this year, aerodynamics chief Peter Prodromou - believed to be Newey's right arm - was revealed to be joining McLaren in 2015. Then Shaun Whitehead, who was also at Red Bull, was named as Williams' head of aerodynamic process for 2014.

Mercedes then bolstered its technical team by luring not one but two of Red Bull’s technical personnel. Mark Ellis will join Mercedes as performance director in June and Giles Wood will take up the position of chief engineer, simulation and development at the same time.

5. MERCEDES POWER LIKELY TO SHINE

© Mercedes

Mercedes is said to have the upper hand in the engine department next year with early speculation suggesting that the German manufacturer has been able to eke out an additional 100hp from its units. Rivals Renault, engine supplier to Red Bull, could be struggling as it had hoped for an increase in the maximum rev limit, which will be lowered from 18,000rpm in the V8s to 15,000rpm in the V6s.

Renault also doesn’t have the highest budget among the engine suppliers in F1 although “they have been prudent in how they spend it.”

 

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