Five days. That might be the difference between Red Bull enduring another slow start to a season, or returning to its title-winning ways.
The squad has developed a habit of struggling through pre-season testing and the early part of the year before coming on strong, challenging for wins on genuine pace just in time for the season to end.
SOUNDBITE (English), DANIEL RICCIARDO,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
“I think looking at the last few years, at least since I've been with the team, winter testing's never been flawless for us.”
But 2017’s pre-season was even tougher. Limited running saw Red Bull arrive in Melbourne with twitchy handling, plus a problem correlating wind tunnel data with real world aero results.
After that difficult gestation, the RB13 has matured into a very fast race car; it has three wins to its name, and Max Verstappen’s victory in Mexico a truly dominant showing with the Dutchman admitting he was bored in the car out-front.
But for next year, Red Bull wants the RB14 to be on the money from the moment the first wheel turns for testing in Barcelona.
To do that, team principal Christian Horner says it is planning to have its 2018 car finished 5 days sooner, allowing for all issues to be sorted before the first day of testing begins.
“The design is so concertinaed and production schedules so tight, that those five days are actually pretty valuable in terms of being on the front foot rather than the back foot,” said Horner.
Horner believes those five days should see the RB14 able to complete 100 trouble-free laps on the opening day in Barcelona.
Whether those five days will allow Red Bull to be a 2018 title contender remains to be seen.