As good as it gets
Late Saturday night in the Monza paddock and all is quiet. Only a handful of people remain in what was, just a few hours ago, a teeming town piazza-like hive of activity: drivers rushing from motor home to garage; tyre trolleys bumping along; media crews hounding team bosses for suitable soundbites; and all trying to get their jobs done while the preening one-race-a-year peacocks so unique to the Italian Grand Prix strut their stuff in this the most VIP of VIP hangouts.
My night-time shoot over, I prepare to leave when through the smoggy haze – pumped out by the teams’ generators – comes a well-respected F1 engineer.
We engage in a two-minute chat.
“What are you gonna do ‘bout those Red Bulls?” I enquire.
A shrug of the shoulders and a wearisome groan is the response. He elaborates, of course, but his initial reaction is revealing.
The stunning domination of F1 2011 by the cocky crew from Milton Keynes is causing a fair amount of puzzled head-scratching. Their rivals appear powerless and possibly clueless as to just how the RB7 is just so damned quick - whatever the track, whatever the weather.
You’ve got to hand it to ‘em, they’re doing a fantastic job right now, setting the pace in almost every facet important to a modern day grand prix outfit.
It’s not just the blisteringly fast car, penned by (arguably) the greatest designer in F1 history, Adrian Newey. It’s not only the fantastically drilled mechanics who set new standards for car builds/rebuilds and pitstop turnarounds. It’s not even solely down to the wonderful ability of soon-to-be-crowned double world champion Sebastian Vettel and his metronomic capacity to extract the maximum from his car. No, it’s the sum of all these parts.
Even off-track Red Bull seem to be in pole position too. Team principal Christian Horner has come seemingly from nowhere to being the TV channels' favourite go-to guy, ably backed up by a marketing campaign so perfectly suited to their energy drink-guzzling customers' desires.
Not for them an oh–so–done old F1 car town centre spin; no, to rev–up the States for the 2012 USA Grand Prix, having Tom Cruise thrash around a photogenic Californian desert track was more their style.
Regarded by many – not so long ago – as upstart wannabes, Red Bull Racing have through hard work, ingenious design, awesome application and a forward-thinking attitude risen to the top in just a few short years and show no signs of losing their fizz anytime soon.
A whole load more head-scratchin’ for sure!