Mark Webber has warned his F1 2010 rivals that Red Bull Racing is 'in better shape than the other teams' as the curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir approaches apace – and he warmly praised the energy drinks-backed outfit as 'one of the best if not the best in the pit-lane'.
The Adrian Newey-designed, Renault-powered RB6 has topped the timing screens on a number of occasions during pre-season testing to-date at Jerez de la Frontera and Barcelona, both in the hands of Webber and highly-rated young team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who registered the Milton Keynes-based squad's breakthrough victory in the top flight when he spearheaded a commanding one-two in the rain-lashed Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai early last year.
Having ended 2009 as the team to beat, RBR is bidding to pick up from where it left off when 2010 gets into gear in the desert kingdom in just over a fortnight's time, and after lapping almost a full second out of reach of anybody else on the opening day of action around the Circuit de Catalunya this week [see separate story – click here
] – albeit without knowing just what kind of fuel loads different drivers were running – Webber reckons it will be capable of doing just that.
“We had a pretty good day's testing,” the Australian confirmed to the BBC
. “[We were] pretty close to Bahrain set-up. We had some new aerodynamic updates which worked pretty well, and some of that stuff will go to the Middle East.
“Every day is crucial, but we're in better shape than the other teams. This team is one of the best if not the best in the pit-lane in terms of what we've done last year and what we're doing this year, so we are very confident going into Bahrain that we're working hard and that the team is doing a good job.”
One possible chink in RBR's armour could be reliability, with a few early niggles and an unscheduled on-track stoppage under the Spanish sun yesterday (Thursday) hampering Webber's time in the cockpit, but the New South Wales native assured that the issues are nothing that cannot be worked through.
“It was a clean day's testing apart from a precautionary stop on the circuit because of gearbox oil pressure with a pretty high mileage part,” the 33-year-old went on. “It wasn't a huge surprise that that had to be done. We tried to take it into the afternoon, but it didn't quite work for us.
“You know, you can always make the car more reliable, there is no question about it – but there were plenty of positives [and] a lot of data to dig through before we get to Bahrain.”
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug, however, has poured cold water on the relevance of lap times before the season gets underway, insisting that with the vagaries of fuel loads accounting for significant discrepancies now that tanks have been enlarged to carry as much as 160kg, trying to make any accurate predictions at all is 'just impossible – it's guesswork'.