Limping Webber unveils new Red Bull F1 car
Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner anticipates his team will benefit from the sweeping regulation changes brought in for the 2009 Formula One season.
Speaking today in Jerez at the low-key launch of the team's new car, the RB5, Horner said changes in aerodynamic specifications, the return of slick tyres and the advent of the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) will all serve to level the playing field in the coming season.
A recent agreement to slash costs in the sport also bodes well for the future of Red Bull, according to Horner, who anticipates his team can emulate the efforts of sister outfit Toro Rosso who claimed a first ever win for a Red Bull-backed team at last year's Italian Grand Prix.
"Going into 2009, the team is now well placed to take advantage of the rule changes, not just the technical ones that we have known about for some time, but also those established through the efforts of FIA and FOTA last December," said Horner.
"Red Bull Racing and Red Bull Technology carried no excess weight anyway in terms of manpower, so adjusting to the new rules has, for us, been relatively straight-forward and we are in good shape for the future.
"2009 will also see us benefit from greater stability in terms of how we run the operation, with all our key players in the technical group having been with us for at least two years.
"We should not forget they designed a car that won a grand prix in 2008.
"There is no reason to believe we cannot do that again with these new rules."
The designer of the RB5, Adrian Newey, revealed the team's new challenger marked a completely fresh start from a technical point of view, with few components or concepts carried over from the 2008 car due to the new regulations.
"2009 arguably sees the biggest rule change since flat bottoms were introduced in 1983, a very major change," the former Williams and McLaren design guru explained.
"We have taken a clean sheet, blue-sky approach, looking at the implications of these rules and how to interpret them, while not changing things simply for the sake of it.
"Apart from the gearbox internals, there is hardly any carry-over from RB4."
Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were on hand to take the covers off the Renault-powered RB5, which in addition to the smaller rear wing common to all 2009 cars also features a longer and narrower nose section than those of their main rivals.
Vettel, who has graduated to the senior team from Toro Rosso, took the car on its first shakedown laps around the Jerez circuit, while Webber, who is recovering from a broken leg suffered in a cycling accident last November, was clearly limping at the launch but will be in the car on Wednesday.
"The regulation changes almost constitute a new formula for the sport and it will be interesting to see how the teams interpret them," said Vettel.
"Certainly in the early part of this season we expect to see a much bigger spread in terms of performance between the teams than we have over the past two years.
"I do think the big changes to the rules could help teams like ours close up on the front runners, but I expect Ferrari and McLaren to be favourites again this year.
"I think we must aim to finish in the points on a regular basis and it would be nice to do better than that now and again."
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