What a difference a year has made at Red Bull Racing

Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel

This time a year ago, Tilbrook was celebrating as Red Bull Racing won their seventh and eighth consecutive Formula 1 world championships.

Sebastian Vettel had wrapped up his fourth driver’s title at the Indian Grand Prix and was about to go on an set the record for most consecutive wins. Fast forward 12 months, and it’s a different story all together.

Last time out, at the Russian Grand Prix two weeks ago, Red Bull Racing’s team principal Christian Horner effectively threw in the towel on Daniel Ricciardo’s slim world championship chances as his side conceded ‘their’ constructor’s crown for the first time since 2009.

The all conquering Mercedes package, with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the wheel, have been the team to beat since the new cars first rolled out of the garage back in January/February time.

Red Bull’s struggles in pre-season saw them complete barely a race distance before travelling to the first race in Australia - a strange situation for the seemingly unbeatable world champions to find themselves in.

Red Bull have struggled to understand the RB10 this season, despite picking up three wins courtesy of Ricciardo, but their talisman Vettel has been off the boil.

Having won 13 times last season, Vettel hasn’t stood on the top step of the podium in 2014. In fact, he’s only graced the podium four times.

The once invincible dream team of Christian Horner, Adrian Newey and Sebastian Vettel will be descimated next season - with Newey heading for a quieter life behind the scenes, while Vettel will be switching his blue overalls for red ones at Ferrari.

It’ll be a dramatically different look to the one that started the 2013 season, with Mark Webber leaving at the end of the year for Le Mans racing.

Ricciardo will be leading the line, with Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat taking over the second RB11 in just his second season in F1.

A lot will be expected of the Russian, stepping into one of the top teams in the sport, but Red Bull’s policy of promoting from within their own ranks paid off with both Vettel and Ricciardo, so there’s no reason why Kvyat won’t adjust to scrutiny at the front of the grid.

But unlike a year ago, there won’t be any champagne corks flying, back slapping and high-fiving at Tilbrook.

Disappointment isn’t something the 500+ employees at the factory have had to endure in recent years, and it’ll hurt more than ever to finish second in the team standings after such a long period of success.

Without Vettel and Newey on board, it’ll be a strange looking Red Bull Racing on the grid in Australia, but it’ll be one just as determined to get back on top.