Red Bull’s first ever home grand prix in Austria ended in disappointment today after Sebastian Vettel retired from the race and Daniel Ricciardo scored just four points.
The team made its F1 debut in 2005, two years after the last race in Austria, and the return of the event was brokered by the brand’s billionaire owner, Dietrich Mateschitz. However, at the Red Bull Ring today, things did not go to plan.
Qualifying had been bad enough for Sebastian Vettel on Saturday. The defending world champion could only qualify 13th, but was promoted to 12th after Sergio Perez served a five-place grid penalty. After holding position off the line, his race soon took a turn for the worse when his RB10 car lost drive.
As Vettel’s car coasted around the track, it looked like his race was over after just two laps. However, he somehow managed to reset what was wrong and get the car back going again – although by this time he was a lap down on the rest of the field.
His engineer, Rocky, told him to “go racing” and enjoy himself, but a run-in with Esteban Gutierrez meant that he had to pit for a new front wing. On lap 37, the team decided that enough was enough, and retired the car to save its engine.
Ricciardo, on the other hand, fared far better in qualifying, lining up fifth on the grid. However, a poor start saw him drop down the order and start battling for the small points with Daniil Kvyat and Nico Hulkenberg.
After Kvyat retired, Ricciardo managed to pick up a place, and continued to push before passing Hulkenberg on the last lap of the race to secure eighth position.
For a race that was intended to be Red Bull’s big show, just four points is a miserable offering. The team will be hoping to bounce back at the British Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, but the problems may not be resolved by then. Instead, it could be that seeing Vettel and Ricciardo struggle to compete is a running theme of the 2014 season.