Fluctuating form puzzles Red Bull

Team manager Mark Dutton with Lowndes' race engineer Jeromy Moore

Team manager Mark Dutton with Lowndes’ race engineer Jeromy Moore

Red Bull Racing Australia has been left to analyse the reasons behind its wildly fluctuating form across back-to-back race weekends at Symmons Plains and Winton.

The squad turned in one of its most dominant ever performances at the Tasmanian venue, locking out the front-row for all three races and scoring a trio of race wins.

Just days later, Winton presented a starkly different picture, including lows of 21st and 23rd in qualifying for drivers Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes on Saturday.

The pair were at least able to salvage top 10 finishes from Races 7 and 9, ensuring Lowndes hangs onto his points lead.

Having risen from seventh to second across the Symmons weekend, Whincup now finds himself back in fifth.

RBRA manager Mark Dutton admits that the Symmons Plains result, which appeared to be boosted significantly by the team’s class-leading KRE engine package, was an unrealistic indicator of his team’s current level.

“With the way this competition is, we shouldn’t in this day and age dominate like we did in Tassie,” Dutton told Speedcafe.com.

“Maybe part of what worked for us in Tassie didn’t work for us at Winton. They are the things we’ve got to understand.

“How can you go from such extremes one weekend to the next? They are completely different tracks, but normally it’s not that extreme.”

Dutton had warned his team to expect a tougher run at the rural Victorian venue, which was also the scene of the team’s least competitive showing last year.

The wildly changing track conditions experienced due to Friday’s surface issues undoubtedly contributed to the team’s poor form on this occasion.

While local teams including Ford Performance Racing and Brad Jones Racing had some level of experience with temperamental silicon sealant at Winton from a test last year, Red Bull struggled to come to terms with the situation.

“One of the strengths of our team is that we’ve retained the same people for so long,” explained Dutton.

“But with every other team in pitlane swapping (staff), everyone else has someone with recent testing experience here.

“That has to play a part. There are a lot of smart people in pitlane that knew what to do on a track like that from past experience.”

The peculiarities of Winton had last year seen Dutton and Whincup join Victorian-based customer team Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport for a pre-event Winton test in preparation for the race meeting.

While LDM is no longer running with a full Triple Eight technical support package, fellow customer outfit Tekno is closely aligned to the Red Bull squad and showed a strong turn of speed at the weekend.

Tekno, which is this year being managed by former Walkinshaw Racing chief Steve Hallam, and its driver Shane van Gisbergen qualified in the top three for all three races.

Dutton, however, shied away from any suggestion that his team could have leaned more heavily on Tekno’s set-up direction over the weekend.

“They (Tekno) work very well with us, we’ve got an excellent relationship with them, but it didn’t correlate between the cars,” he said.

“Again, we’ll have to understand why they with the same equipment could go quicker.

“It would have been nice if they had a silver bullet for us, but it was not to be.”

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