Red Bull Racing

Why Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel Will Not Dominate F1 in 2014

Sebastian Vettel celebrates winning the 2013 Indian Grand Prix and his fourth straight world championship.
Sebastian Vettel celebrates winning the 2013 Indian Grand Prix and his fourth straight world championship.Ker Robertson/Getty Images
Matthew WalthertFeatured ColumnistNovember 22, 2013

When Michael Schumacher won five World Drivers' Championships in a row from 2000 to 2004, fans (other than the tifosi) were clamouring for a change. The same fatigue has set in now, with Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull claiming four straight titles, even though two of them were not decided until the final race.

While Fernando Alonso believes Red Bull will still have the fastest car on the grid in 2014, there are many reasons for fans of the other 10 teams to be hopeful.

First, the new technical regulations, and in particular the new engines, are likely to shake up the grid. And Red Bull's rivals already have a jump on them in developing their 2014 cars: Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali told the official F1 website that the team was shifting its resources to next year effective the end of September.

Red Bull chief technical officer, Adrian Newey, chats with Mark Webber.
Red Bull chief technical officer, Adrian Newey, chats with Mark Webber.Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Red Bull focused on wrapping up both titles this season. Following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the chief technical officer, Adrian Newey, told ESPN F1 that, "We had to keep pushing and we put a lot of work into developing this year's car, which in truth meant some compromise to the development of next year's car, but we felt we needed to do that."

The team is also replacing the very experienced Mark Webber—and his car set-up knowledge—with Daniel Ricciardo, who has never raced a top-flight F1 car. Sebastian Vettel is already lamenting the loss of the elder Aussie, even though they were not always model teammates.

While Ricciardo is a talented driver, particularly in qualifying, a Vettel–Ricciardo pairing does not have the same top-to-bottom quality that Ferrari's and Mercedes' driver line-ups will have in 2014. The Italian team retains double world champion (and three-time runner-up) Fernando Alonso, matching him with 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen. Mercedes is keeping the same drivers who performed so well for them this year: Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, and Nico Rosberg.

With so many changes to the cars for 2014, reliability will also play a larger factor than it has in recent seasons. Given the increased reliance on Energy Recovery Systems under the new regulations, Red Bull's ongoing struggles with its KERS units could cause big problems for the team.

Add to all this the fact that F1 is not really conducive to dynasties. Only two other drivers have ever won more than two world championships in a row: Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio (1954–1957). In a sport where innovation (along with a big pile of cash) is the key to victory, it is difficult to dominate for long periods of time.

Maybe Red Bull's money, Newey's genius and Vettel's skill will allow the Bulls to run rampant for another season or two. But each Red Bull victory only makes its rivals more, not less, hungry, and eventually one of them will play matador and take down the charging beast.

Follow Matthew Walthert on Twitter @TheParadeLapF1

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