SHANGHAI, April 16 (Reuters) - Once-dominant Formula One champions Red Bull are considering their technical options after failing to make the podium for the second race out of three so far this season.
Team principal Christian Horner told reporters after the weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix that they could go down a similar route to Mercedes whose controversial rear wing has been declared legal.
Mercedes’ German driver Nico Rosberg took a crushing first grand prix win, and a first for a works Mercedes team since 1955, in Shanghai after securing a first pole position by a hefty margin.
”I think there’s been a lot said and a lot of fuss about it (the wing),“ Horner said. ”They’ve optimised and capitalised on it so inevitably now we’ll all pursue our own solutions.
Red Bull, now 24 points behind leaders McLaren, had held off doing anything while seeking a definitive clarification - which came in China when a formal protest by Lotus came to nothing.
Asked how long it might take Red Bull to get the development on the car, Horner was vague: “I think first of all, like any component, it has to earn a place on the car as a package,” he declared.
“It’s not a given that on everybody’s car it’s bolt-on lap time.”
The Mercedes wing contains slots on the inside of the endplates that are opened when the driver-activated drag reduction system (DRS) is used for extra speed within defined zones to aid overtaking.
The slots channel air through internal pipes to the front of the car which increases aerodynamic downforce.
Red Bull won 12 of last year’s 19 races, with double world champion Sebastian Vettel taking 11 victories, and secured a record 18 poles.
Vettel finished second in the Melbourne season-opener but was 11th in Malaysia and fifth on Sunday while Australian team mate Mark Webber has had three successive fourth places. Neither has yet appeared on the front row of the starting grid.
In China, they went for different exhaust specifications, with Vettel opting to revert to one that he had used in pre-season testing.
“There are some characteristics about the upgraded car that weren’t particularly suited to his style of driving which is to carry a lot of speed into the corner,” Horner said of the 24-year-old German.
”But the decision to come here with two different cars was very much (designer) Adrian (Newey) and the technical decision because we want to make sure we get a direction and a clear comparison and we’ve had that.
“It’s been a really useful exercise this weekend... now we’ve got an awful lot of information through three days of running to settle on a direction moving forward.”
Asked whether the team would continue with the split strategy, Horner said the real challenge was to get the characteristics of both solutions on a single car but Bahrain this weekend might see something similar.
“We just need to sort out qualifying now,” he said. “We know we’ve got good race pace... I think if we can just get qualifying sorted then we can make a significant step forward.” (Editing by John O‘Brien)