Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner and the energy drinks-backed outfit's motorsport advisor Dr. Helmut Marko have both brushed off suggestions that the impending ban on off-throttle blown diffusers will significantly hamper the runaway early-season F1 2011 pace-setters' performance.
Red Bull has been the class act in F1 thus far this year, with defending world champion Sebastian Vettel triumphing in all-bar two of the opening seven races, but there are suspicions inside the paddock that a substantial part of the RB7's superiority is the manner in which the car employs aggressive engine mapping – particularly during qualifying – to operate its blown diffuser, sending a full blast of exhaust gases into the diffuser when the driver is off the throttle in corners.
This is a controversial practice that from next month's British Grand Prix at Silverstone onwards will be outlawed as the FIA deemed that the spirit of parc fermé
regulations was being exploited, with the governing body's respected chief technical delegate Charlie Whiting informing teams that cars 'should be raced exactly as they qualified'.
That has prompted McLaren-Mercedes, in particular, to muse that it might be able to get on terms with Red Bull in the qualifying stakes – with Martin Whitmarsh forecasting a potential gain of 'half-a-second' [see separate story – click here
] – but Horner has told Press Association
that he 'doubts' the rule change 'will affect us any more or less than any other team', and Marko contends that McLaren will similarly suffer since 'they copied our system very well' whilst Ferrari 'never really got it under control'.
“I would say it is about [the dominance of] Red Bull,” team owner Dietrich Mateschitz's right-hand man told Servus TV
, likening the clampdown to those on double-diffusers and F-ducts in recent campaigns and reflecting that 'this time it (the ban) seems to be in a hurry'. “We would not be Red Bull if we did not already have ideas about how to mitigate the effect.”
Rather, Marko predicted that Lotus Renault GP – whose R31 features unique front-exiting exhausts – could be one of the key losers from the enforcement, but the Enstone-based operation's technical director James Allison would concede only that 'some teams will lose more and some teams less...it is hard to know exactly what relative loss we will suffer'.