RED Bull Racing secured a third consecutive Formula 1 constructors’ title at the United States Grand Prix on Sunday, and design chief Adrian Newey described it as the “most tiring” of the lot.
Sebsatian Vettel’s second place finish behind McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton in Austin tied up the city team’s third constructors’ crown in as many years, although the German will have to wait until the final race of the season to make sure of the drivers’ title.
Newey said: “It’s been exhausting just to keep up. It feels like a long season.”
He said it had been “very satisfying but a lot of hard work” to turn a difficult start to the year around.
Red Bull have always had strong race pace this season, but they struggled for the first two-thirds of the year to consistently replicate it in qualifying.
It was only a significant upgrade to the car at the Singapore Grand Prix at the end of September, and continuous tinkering ever since, that had enabled them to suddenly qualify regularly at the front.
From that position Vettel won four consecutive races in Singapore, Japan, Korea and India to take the drivers’ championship lead from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, and make Red Bull unassailable in the constructors’ race.
Newey said the team’s problems had been caused by the banning of last year’s must-have technology, exhaust-blown diffusers, which Red Bull exploited better than most.
“Last year’s was obviously the easiest,” Newey said. “In comparison to 2010, this year has obviously been different.
“In 2010 we had a lot of silly points losses at the start of the year from reliability, driver mistakes and so forth, but the car had very good pace. This year pace-wise it has been very close through the year.
“We struggled a bit at the start of the year, or the mid-season more than anything, to understand the car and get it to work properly.
“I think it bore out my pre-season fear that having been on side exhausts for two years and really developed the car and the whole philosophy of the car around that technology.
“To have it taken away over the winter was probably a bigger step back for us than other people.”
Hamilton won the United States Grand Prix after a tight battle with Vettel, as Alonso kept the title fight alive by finishing third.
Hamilton’s McLaren tracked Vettel throughout the race and finally passed him with 14 laps to go, while Alonso’s third spot means he is 13 points behind the Red Bull man in the standings.
The title will now be settled in the final race of the season in Brazil next weekend, with 25 points available for victory. For Alonso to win the drivers’ crown, he needs a victory in Brazil, with Vettel finishing lower than fourth.
Second place for Alonso would mean he would only win the title in the event of Vettel not finishing in the top seven, while third spot for Alonso would require Vettel to finish lower than ninth.
So only one title was settled in Texas, with Red Bull clinching a third constructors’ championship. Team boss Christian Horner said: “We’re halfway there. To have won a third consecutive constructors’ title is something we could only have dreamed about a few years ago.
“To have achieved what we have against the opponents we have in only our eighth year in the sport is something quite remarkable.
“It is testimony to the long hours, dedication and determination in the team, and it is something every member of the team is fiercely proud of.”