Disastrous day for Red Bull as Vettel manages just half a lap

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Sebastian Vettel is still confident that Red Bull can turn things around ahead of the opening race of the F1 season in Australia despite completing just half a lap of running in Bahrain today.

The team has been blighted by problems throughout the winter testing period as the RB10 car and Renault engine have not worked as expected. After Daniel Ricciardo’s promising display yesterday, Red Bull did appear to be on the verge of a recovery, only for two problems to curtail all running on Saturday. However, Vettel still has faith that the team will resolve the issues.

“At the moment we obviously have lots of different problems we are curing,” he explained. “It’s not the best situation to be in but we can’t change it. Everybody is extremely motivated to fix it, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

“I think some things will just come down to the fact that in two weeks’ time we’ll have lots of new parts on the car. We’ve had some damage because of the problems we’ve had here and the parts aren’t available overnight, so from that side I think things will get better over the next couple of weeks.

“We obviously haven’t done much running but from the little we have done has been quite promising, so I think once we get going the speed should be okay.”

The defending world champion completed just half a lap on his first run in the morning before his car came to a halt due to an electrical problem. After it was recovered, the team tried to send Vettel out again only for the car to stop at the end of the pit lane.

“Given how well the car behaved yesterday we were anticipating a solid run for Seb today but almost as soon as he went out there was an electrical problem, which meant stopped him on track,” engineer Andy Damerum explained. “We brought the car back, identified the issue, which is one other teams have had but which hadn’t affected us so far, and set about fixing it.

“Having run so well yesterday it is frustrating to have had these problems today, but all we can do is keep solving the issues.”

Throughout the winter period, Red Bull have encountered problem after problem. With just one more day of testing left before the Australian Grand Prix, the team must react quickly if Vettel and Ricciardo are to challenge the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers at Albert Park.

Red Bull are expected to use one of their ‘filming days’ next week, where they can complete 100km of running.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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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.