RED Bull Racing head to the controversial Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend, putting the political wrangling on the Arab island out of their minds as they look to get their 2012 season back on track.
F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel cut a frustrated figure at the Chinese Grand Prix last weekend as he qualified 11th – the first time he’s missed out on a place in the top 10 in nearly two years. But the German recovered in the race to finish fifth, opting to stop twice for new tyres in a bid to help him up the field, rather than the three stop strategy that was chosen by most of the front runners.
But it could have been fourth place but for a superb late charge from team-mate Mark Webber on fresher tyres which saw him rise up through the field along with McLaren rival Lewis Hamilton.
Webber seems to be having a better time than Vettel in getting to grips with the Tilbrook-built RB8. Vettel looks out of sorts in the car at the moment, perhaps finding it harder to adjust to the 2012 rule changes and to the fact that, for the first time since joining the Red Bull team back in 2009, he is not sitting in the best car in the field.
Mercedes and McLaren appear to have stolen a march on their big rivals after just three rounds so far, with the latter leading the way in the constructors’ championship and in the driver’s standings thanks to three consecutive third place finishes from Hamilton, while team-mate Jenson Button is second in the table.
And Nico Rosberg’s dominant win in Shanghai – his career first and the first for his Mercedes team since rejoining the sport in 2010 – may signal a new rival for Red Bull to have to overcome if they’re to find themselves back at the front of the field in Bahrain.
However, political unrest threatens to overshadow the event this weekend. Last year’s race was cancelled after an uprising left many dead and a three-month state of emergency was called.
Governing body, the FIA, have declared the race will go ahead, and now Red Bull must react quickly to get back to winning ways.