Red Bull’s Christian Horner has revealed that his team will not participate in the season opening test session scheduled for February 1-3 in Valencia. The current sporting regulations impose strict limits on testing mileage, restricting teams to 15 days worth of pre-season testing.
However, Red Bull’s decision to skip the Valencia test should not be taken as a sign that they’re behind schedule with the production of the RB6. Horner recently told Autosport that missing the first test date has been part of their 2010 production plan all along. In fact, it’s the same strategy they used in 2009.
“It worked very well for us last year,” Horner said. “We took a decision some time ago that there was more performance to be had by focusing on test two at Jerez rather than test one. It was built into our plan from the outset.”
Rather than try to make up for the missed session, the team will maximize their mileage at the three remaining common test sessons scheduled during the pre-season time window. While acknowledging that such test time as they chose to utilize would be critical, given that there would even less testing allowed in 2010 than in 2009, Horner was confident that the test time available would be sufficient.
“Time is always of the essence,” Horner said, “but much of the design philosophy is of carry over. All of the cars on the grid have had incredible reliability over the last few years – on the first day of running with the RB5 we did 90 laps. We’ve got high expectations in terms of track time with RB6 so we feel that it’s a plan that suits us and it’s one that we plan to execute.”
Horner went on to assess Red Bull’s prospects for the coming season, outlining what he saw as a return to the Big Four model that predominated through much of the 1980’s and 1990’s, albeit with some different names coming to the fore. Nearly 20 years ago, the Big Four were Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Benetton. This year, obviously, the latter two names would be replaced by Mercedes and Red Bull.
“There are some formidable opponents out there,” Horner said. “McLaren and Ferrari will be pushing very hard to redress the balance from last year and the Brawn team emerging into Mercedes with the comeback of Michael Schumacher is going to be a very strong. We expect to be right in there and we’ve got self-confidence in our own ability but it all depends what you do not just in Bahrain but throughout the 19-race season.”