Red Bull Racing can sense 'a great opportunity' in Formula 1 in 2009 with the raft of technical and aerodynamic changes sweeping the top flight – and that could even stretch as far as winning its first race, reckons David Coulthard.
The highly-experienced Scot – the fifth-most successful driver of all time in the sport in terms of points scored, with a staggering 535 to his name, beaten only by multiple world champions Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Fernando Alonso – hung up his helmet from active competition following the 2008 season-closing Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.
He will remain a conspicuous part of the F1 paddock, however, by dint of his ongoing consultancy role with the Milton Keynes-based concern and his new commentating duties with the BBC
. He is confident that in its fifth campaign in the highest echelon, RBR could finally be about to break the big time this year.
“We've spent a lot of extended time in the wind tunnel,” the 37-year-old told Crash.net Radio
, describing pre-season preparations as 'very good' and his record-breaking replacement Sebastian Vettel as a 'great driver, great talent and, at the beginning of his career, [one with] so much potential'.
“Our car will be out later than some of the other cars, but that was just down to the fact that we spent more time trying to develop the package. It's a later start to the season, so I don't think that will affect the team too badly, and there's a real sense that this could be a great opportunity with all these regulation changes.
“They effectively won a grand prix last year, because of course it was Red Bull Technology that designed the car that Toro Rosso won the Italian Grand Prix with. We just need to do it under the Red Bull Racing banner now.”
One man who assuredly will be winning races in 2009 is the sport's recently-crowned, youngest-ever world champion Lewis Hamilton, but Coulthard pointed out that in an era of such great upheaval, nothing can be taken for granted.
“He's a great driver in a great team, so it's a good basis on which to go racing,” the Twynholm-born ace contended, “but the formula has changed significantly, so we have to see who has made the best interpretation of the rules.
“I think it's quite difficult to predict with all the new regulations, so I'm excited to see just exactly how that plays out.”