Adrian Newey is refusing to count any chickens when it comes to the possibility of landing a third straight F1 world drivers' championship title with Sebastian Vettel, insisting that an unpredictable 2012 campaign would continue to be so until the end of the year.
Vettel moved firmly back into contention - and , in some eyes, the favourite's seat - for the 2012 crown when he took advantage of Fernando Alonso's first lap exit in Japan to slash a 29-point deficit to a more manageable gap of just four points. Despite a more confident glint in the young German's eye after the race, he continues to insist that the sort of misfortune that befell his rival at Suzuka could just as easily happen to him over the next five races - something Alonso is clinging too in trying to remain upbeat about his chances - and Newey confirms that it will be difficult for anyone to make claims to know what is going to happen between Korea and Brazil.
"It's very difficult to tell, I think," the Red Bull designer told journalists in Mokpo, "We've seen swings from race to race, team to team, all through the year. That's been one of the hallmarks of the year. You've only got to look at Mercedes performance in China, which looked so dominant, yet they've been less dominant on other races. So I wouldn't like to predict anything on the basis of one race. It's wholly possible [that some circuits won't suit the RB8 like Suzuka did]. We just don't know which ones yet!"
Red Bull again appeared to be the car to be beat at the Korea International Circuit, with Sebastian Vettel topping second and third free practice ahead of qualifying, despite the layout posing several different demands from a chassis-engine combination.
"It's a tale of two tracks here, in as much as the first is very long straights, [where] engine power is important, and then you've got the rest of the lap, which is quite twiddly," Newey confirmed, "You can get quite big swings between the various sectors."
Newey's genius has been rewarded with championships at every stop in his F1 career, and makes him a natural target for rivals looking to tap into the success. The latest is Mercedes which, according to Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko, has been using Niki Lauda to tap up the Briton. Having been credited with agreeing the Three Pointed Star's stance on the Concorde Agreement and helping persuade Lewis Hamilton to leave McLaren for a berth alongside Nico Rosberg, Lauda is clearly on a roll, but Marko insists that there is an existing contract in place to keep Newey on board.
“And what would he do at Mercedes anyway?" Marko asked Bild
, "With Ross Brawn, there are three other technical directors, [and that makes] too many chiefs and not enough Indians.”