Red Bull play down impact of F1 rule changes
Valencia: Champions Red Bull played down McLaren hopes on Thursday that a Formula One crackdown on engine electronics would help to close the performance gap from Sunday`s European Grand Prix.
Red Bull`s world champion Sebastian Vettel has won five of the seven races so far this season with the team starting all of them on pole position. McLaren, their closest rivals, have won twice.
The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) announced this week that with immediate effect teams could no longer reconfigure the car`s electronic control unit (ECU) between Saturday qualifying and the race.
Teams have used more extreme settings to turn up the engine performance for qualifying before readjusting the ECU configuration for the race.
Further rule changes will come into force at the next race in Britain to prevent teams using engine mapping to gain aerodynamic performance by keeping exhaust gases flowing constantly through the rear diffuser even when drivers lift off the throttle.
"There`s no secrets. We had some phases last year where people thought we had some lever in the car. It turns out we didn`t," said Vettel of the likely impact of the changes.
"From what I know, I can assure you there is nothing special going on from Saturday to Sunday."
His Australian team mate Mark Webber said everyone would have to adapt.
"It is nothing new for our team to adapt to a change in regulations," he added.
"I don`t think it is going to turn the field upside down. I think everyone will still be in reasonable shape. McLaren and Ferrari are fast, we know that. We are quick but the changes, whether they will
turn the championship around, I think it is unlikely."
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner agreed.
"I think in reality it will affect the front-running teams a very similar amount," he told reporters.
Asked whether he felt the changes were specifically targeting his team, Horner said it would be wrong to assume there was a sole reason why the Red Bull had been so quick this year and last.
"We`ll deal with it, we`ll move on. We`ve got some parts in the pipeline for Silverstone and hopefully we can be competitive there," he said.
McLaren`s Jenson Button, winner of the previous race in Canada, said he hoped to see his team closer to Red Bull on Saturday afternoon.
"There`s some regulation changes in terms of electronics on the car where you can`t change from qualifying to the race, which hurts everyone. It will hurt us but not as much as hopefully Red Bull," he said.
"Hopefully we will be a little bit closer in qualifying than we normally are."
His team mate Lewis Hamilton said Red Bull had appeared to be able to tweak their engine in the final part of qualifying to gain the upper hand, as Ferrari did in Canada where Fernando Alonso qualified on the front row.
"Everyone`s probably not going to be using their qualifying mode because their engines won`t last, they will use their race mode, and we`ve generally got good race pace," added the Briton.
"So I`m hoping that enables us all to be a bit closer in qualifying."