It’s hard to forget something like what happened in Malaysia. For all the one-sides excuses and dodged questions, there is no getting around the fact that things at Red Bull will never be the same.
This will make competing for the championship even more of a struggle in 2013. The spoils of war are ripe for the picking this year, and potentially four teams could benefit hugely from the controversy Red Bull has found itself mired in.
Even so, the Milton Keynes squad cannot be ruled out if the picture this weekend in China. The car is monstrously quick in qualifying and, while maybe not the fastest overall, it is one of the best in race conditions. Their success is now pinned on prevailing in variable weather conditions and other unforeseen factors. They are not alone in this championship.
Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes are all arguably in the same boat in terms of competitiveness. Lotus’ qualifying pace may be the deciding factor between fighting and not fighting for the win this weekend. Whether one of these three can end the Red Bull qualifying domination remains to be seen, but if one team does, it could open the floodgates for their 2013 success.
For Mclaren, though, this is an opportunity to give their championship campaign a new look. Apart from bringing new parts, what may prove to be just as beneficial in terms of their competitiveness is their basic understanding of the car. Once the small issues are ironed out, the drivers will have more confidence. That alone can do wonders.
It’s business as usual in the midfield. Force India may still have the upper hand over Mclaren and the other small teams, but their high perch may struggle to stand with the likes of Sauber starting to come into their own. The near-random midfield fluctuation may be over for now, but nothing is guaranteed.
The Chinese Grand Prix could very well prove to be the start of one of the most heated rivalries in F1. Just as we’ve seen withSenna and Prost, there is only so much one driver can take. Could this be the beginning of Mark’s breaking point? We will soon find out.