It’s day 15 of Badger’s Advent Calendar and what else could we look at but Red Bull’s 15 pole positions during the 2010 season? What’s that you say? The fifteen words Sebastien Buemi spoke during the entire campaign? That’s just mean.
Now, this is technically a record equaling feat, as previously only McLaren (in 1988 and ’89) and Williams (in 1992 and ’93) had scored so many poles during a single campaign. But – crucially – those were all during 16 race season. Red Bull had 19 opportunities to take pole and only managed 15. A poor effort.
Yes, we’re kidding, but it’s still not really fair to call it the record. McLaren and Williams were on P1 in 94% of races in their record-taking years, Red Bull just 79%. So, with our position made clear lets get on with the fawning praise of the RB6.
And why not? It was a truly magnificent car, the most dominant we’d seen since the 2004 Ferrari that swept all before it. In qualifying especially it was a class apart, as demonstrated by the fact that from their 15 poles Red Bull only converted nine in to wins. Over a race distance it sometimes fell apart, dropped a bit of pace or got thrown in to a wall – but over one lap it was simply mega.
Eventual champ Sebastian Vettel got the ball rolling with pole in the opening two races before Mark Webber made it three-from-three in Malaysia. The team only took one win from those races, and amusingly it was Vettel from P3 at Sepang.
Seb was on pole again in China (but didn’t win it) before Mark hit the form of his life: pole and a win in both Spain and Monaco began his push for the world title and both were herculean efforts from the Aussie. Then came Turkey, Webber’s third straight pole, where the Red Bulls famously clashed whilst running first and second.
The Red Bull run was finally broken in Canada, where Lewis Hamilton stuck it on pole, but normal service resumed in Valencia where Vettel was on pole. He added three more with P1s in Britain, Germany and Hungary before Webber took pole number four of 2010 in Belgium.
And then things got strange, as Fernando Alonso – in a Ferrari, remember, not a Red Bull – took two straight poles. It was bizarre. In fact in Italy there wasn’t a single Red Bull on the front row of the grid for the first time in 2010. The team’s mechanics looked on as if another man was all over their wife; that was where they belonged.
But Vettel put things right over the final four races, taking pole in Japan, Korea and Abu Dhabi as well as taking second to Hulkenberg in Brazil – then quickly dispatching his fellow German at turn one. All in all that mean ten poles for Seb in 2010 and five for Mark.
One reason frequently muttered (sometimes quite loudly) by other teams as to why the RB6 was quicker in qualy than the race was the alleged use of an adjustable ride height system. For optimum performance cars need to run as low to the ground as possible, but with the minimal fuel used in Q3 this season that was difficult. Red Bull seemed to suffer from this less than most, leading some to suggest that they had a system in place allowing them to run the car lower in qualy than the race, handing them a pace advantage over one lap. This was, however, never proved to the extent that the FIA took action against the Milton Keynes-based team.
Sour grapes? Perhaps. Or maybe it was sour grapes with a dash of truth and a liberal sprinkling of hearsay. That sounds quite appetising, doesn’t it? Anyway, RB6 we salute you and your 15 pole positions. It was the car of the year by a country mile.