Former racer David Coulthard says he doesn't expect Red Bull to enjoy the same kind of dominance as Ferrari has done in the past, despite Sebastian Vettel wrapping up his second straight title in Japan at the weekend.
Vettel wrapped up the championship crown at Suzuka with another podium finish, while Red Bull has moved closer to lifting the constructors' title with four races still to run this year.
However, writing in his column for the Daily Telegraph
, Coulthard said it was hard to see Red Bull matching the dominance of Ferrari when Michael Schumacher enjoyed a run of championship success, with circumstances having changed somewhat since then.
“I don't see Red Bull pounding everyone into submission like Ferrari did in the early 2000s,” DC wrote. “The conditions back then were so different. Firstly, Ferrari cottoned on to something which you would have thought, with all their combined brainpower and expertise, other teams would have cottoned on to, and that was that they had not only a fast car, but a reliable car from the late 1990s through the early 2000s. That was the backbone of their success. These days everyone is pretty reliable.
“The second thing is that Ferrari could afford to outspend their rivals back then. They had their own test track, Mugello, during a time of unlimited testing. Bridgestone, then in competition with Michelin, were producing custom-made tyres for Michael. It was difficult for anyone to compete with that. Nowadays there is no in-season testing and everyone uses the same tyre supplier. And even if Red Bull could afford to outspend their rivals they are not allowed to; the Resource Restriction Agreement limits the amount of personnel and money teams can spend to go racing. Spending power is not the issue.
“Thirdly, let's not forget that Michael was clearly the No.1 driver at Ferrari; everything was geared towards him. Often his team-mates simply drove for him. Whatever people may say about Red Bull and their perceived favouritism towards Vettel, not many would question that the Australian receives equal treatment and equal opportunity.
“Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we are now in an era when the rules are relatively stable. The reason Red Bull have been dominant for the last three years is because Newey reacted the smartest to the last major set of rule changes in 2009. Newey has proven time and again that, when handed a clean sheet of paper, he can build a more innovative car than the rest. But heading into 2012 there are minimal changes. In fact, the one big change could hurt Red Bull more than the rest; the banning of blown diffusers, which Red Bull pioneered and which everyone else has subsequently copied.
“This is not the start of the 'Red Bull era'. The last two years have been nothing like 2004 or 2002, when Schumacher won the title with six races to go.”
Despite saying he didn't feel that Vettel's dominance will go on for too long, Coulthard did add that he felt the young German was a more than deserving winner of the 2011 title.
“His achievement in winning back-to-back titles has been extraordinary and should not be dismissed or diminished on the grounds of him having what has generally been the fastest car,” the Scot said. “You can only race what's in front of you and Seb has produced the goods week in, week out, making a world class team-mate in Mark Webber look average at times.
“Seb and Red Bull just did a much better job this season than anyone else and for that they should be applauded, not criticised.”