It is 'not impossible' that Red Bull Racing will overhaul 'junior' outfit Scuderia Toro Rosso in the Formula 1 Constructors' World Championship in the final race of the 2008 campaign in Brazil this weekend – especially as the Milton Keynes-based outfit was the 'more competitive' of the two last time out in China.
That is the claim of Fabrice Lom, in charge of engine matters at the Renault-powered squad, which has been out-scored 27 points to just five by STR over the second half of the season. Indeed, not only does RBR have the target of snatching sixth spot in the standings from the Faenza-based concern at Interlagos, but it also has the arguably even more pressing issue of staving off Williams just three points behind.
“Clearly we want to finish ahead of Toro Rosso as there are only five points between us,” Lom affirmed, “and it's not impossible to make that up in Brazil.
“From Renault's point-of-view, the Chinese Grand Prix was very disappointing. We suffered our first engine failure since beginning our collaboration with Red Bull Racing, which was a shame. We had already used our 'joker' with Mark [Webber] and so we couldn't avoid the penalty.
“It's a shame because we were looking good in Shanghai, and we were more competitive than Toro Rosso. Unfortunately, on a circuit like that it's difficult to recover from a ten-place grid penalty, so even though the car was very quick, we finished outside the points.”
Indeed, RBR has endured a torrid second half to the campaign, largely due to its development having failed to keep pace with that of its immediate rivals. Though in four previous starts there the energy drinks-backed team has yet to trouble the scorers in São Paulo, Lom hopes 2008 will witness a change-around in fortunes.
“First of all, Interlagos is at altitude and so the density of the air is less than at sea level,” he explained, “which means that the engine suffers less under load. However, the final corner and the main straight consist of a period of full throttle for around 16 seconds, and that can be tricky.
“It's a long left-hander but it's not a problem, because our oil pump is situated on the right-hand side of the engine. If it was a long right-hand descent, it would be a different story.
“We are confident, but China showed that you have to be vigilant on performance, and even if Interlagos is not a big test in terms of reliability, we will take all the usual precautions.”