Red Bull Racing has already blown its chances of lifting the world championship laurels in F1 2010 through its lack of reliability in the opening two races of the campaign – that is the view of triple title-winner Niki Lauda, with former RBR star David Coulthard concurring that with 'the quickest car out there...they should be winning'.
Having qualified on pole position for the Bahrain and Australian Grands Prix earlier this month, Sebastian Vettel went on to commandingly lead both – but a spark plug failure in Sakhir caused the highly-regarded German to lose power and dropped him to fourth at the chequered flag, whilst he didn't see the flag at all Down Under in Melbourne when an electrical fault shortly before half-distance pitched the sport's youngest-ever winner off into the gravel trap and out of the reckoning.
The upshot is that instead of heading to Sepang for the Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend at the head of the drivers' standings and with 50 points to his name, Vettel sits just seventh on twelve points, 25 off leader Fernando Alonso and facing a mountain to climb if he is to get back on terms. Lauda opines that even if the Milton Keynes-based squad does conquer its reliability demons, it might now be too little, too late.
“There must be consequences,” the Austrian told Bild
. “Two races and two victories lost because of technical defects – Red Bull can forget the title.”
That is a concern that is similarly expressed – if not entirely shared – by BBC F1
pundit Coulthard, who achieved the final podium finish of his long and successful grand prix career with the energy drinks-backed outfit in Canada in 2008, and remains on-board today as a consultant.
“I notice I have been criticised in some quarters for being biased towards Red Bull during the BBC's
coverage,” the Scot wrote in his regular column for the Daily Telegraph
. “I take exception to that. I am not lying when I say they have the quickest car out there – they should be winning these races. That they are not is a worry for everyone at Milton Keynes. A car without reliability is like a golfer who has the biggest drive on earth but who cannot actually get the ball in the hole.
“Sebastian Vettel is so far remaining calm – at least publicly – as he knows he has been the quickest car and driver combination in the opening two races and it is easier to make a quick car reliable than a reliable car quick...but Red Bull need to sort it out before it's too late.”
RBR team principal Christian Horner, however, is adamant that there is no need to panic just yet – contending that much can still happen over the balance of the campaign.
“We know we have got a fast car and I would far rather have a fast car than a slow car,” the Englishman – a former racer himself – told The Sun
. “We've had two pole positions and should have been sitting on 50 points, but Sebastian is sitting on twelve. There is still a long way to go, though, and the season will have many different twists and turns.”