Red Bull Racing is 'one of the dark horses' of the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship, believes Gary Anderson – but the long-time designer is less sure about the prospects of 'junior' outfit Scuderia Toro Rosso, the team that for much of the second half of the 2008 campaign showed the way to its 'parent' concern.
The Milton Keynes-based squad dropped increasingly off the pace as last year wore on, but the substantial technical and particularly aerodynamic regulation changes brought into force for the forthcoming season appear to have played right into the hands of Adrian Newey, one of the sport's true great innovators.
The Renault-powered RB5 has shown encouraging pace in winter testing, and in Italian Grand Prix-winner Sebastian Vettel, RBR has arguably one of F1's very brightest young talents on its driving strength. It should be, Anderson contends, the energy drinks-backed concern's most successful campaign by some stretch.
“I think they're one of the dark horses,” the former Jordan and Stewart design guru-turned-commentator told Crash.net Radio
. “Vettel has got the talent to go and do it, given the opportunity. The team has to help with that, obviously; Toro Rosso last year gave him the opportunity at Monza, and he took it with both hands and away he went. Everything fell into place for them in the race, and they were the rightful winners of that race.
“Red Bull is slightly different from Toro Rosso; Toro Rosso is a good-operating family team where everybody can have an input and a bit of a chat and sort it out, but I think Red Bull is a bit bigger than that. There are a lot of levels of management, so it's going to be a different environment at a race meeting, from the guy who's standing in the pit-lane sticking his finger up and saying 'it might rain in five minutes, let's take a gamble on it' to three weather stations and a guy out in the mountains in a helicopter reporting back that it might rain in five minutes and you'd better take a gamble.
“I'm sure Vettel can win races; I think he's a star, to be honest. Red Bull look as though they've got the car – to me it looks like a good package under the new regulations – but can they run it at a race meeting and survive the whole thrash of a weekend by doing the best job possible? Maybe there's a little bit to learn there yet...”
Anderson admitted, by contrast, that he had been somewhat perplexed by the generally poor form displayed by STR in pre-season testing, with the small Faenza-based concern's new STR5 appearing to be neither especially quick nor reliable – even if he expects the team to catch up as the campaign progresses.
“It's a bit odd,” he mused. “Obviously there have been differences in the engine installation, which affects the gearbox, the clutch mechanism, the hydraulics, the cooling system, the oil system, the airbox intake and so on – quite a lot of stuff is different.
“There's a bit of a learning curve there, but the performance-related devices that Red Bull are working on at the moment should transfer directly to Toro Rosso, so at some point in time when they've got over their little reliability problems, then I think that the package can be put on the car that makes it as competitive as the Red Bull.”