Until they are knocked off their perch, four-time defending World Champions Red Bull Racing should be considered the team to beat in Formula One.
However, with the new turbo V6 engines and energy-recovery systems making their debut in 2014, they know that they’ll need reliability from its equipment in order to stretch their dominance into a fifth consecutive season.
“Reliability is the number one challenge,” team principal Christian Horner recently told Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat. “But of course, we also want a lot of performance from the car from the very start in Australia. It means the amount of work in front of us [this winter] is phenomenal.”
Horner’s team certainly had a phenomenal finish to the championship this past season as Sebastian Vettel closed out his fourth consecutive drivers’ title with a season-ending streak of nine wins in a row.
But even after that impressive display, Horner realizes there’s room to improve for the Milton Keynes-based group.
“We did a good job in 2013 but it wasn’t perfect, and that motivates us to improve on those areas in which we did not meet our targets,” he told the Finnish paper.
“That doesn’t mean that we expect to win next season. We want to win, but the competition is very hard, and we know how quickly everything can change at the top in F1. Nothing can be taken for granted.”
And something tells us everyone else at Red Bull besides Horner and Vettel is thinking the same way.
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.
The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.
“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.
Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”
Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.
“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.
Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.