Horner: RB8 yet to run light
Christian Horner reveals that Saturday's qualifying session in Melbourne will be the first time this winter that Red Bull will have run the RB8 with low fuel.
Last Updated: 16/03/12 7:09pm
In what amounts to an ominous warning to the rest of the field, Christian Horner has announced that the Red Bull RB8 will run for the first time with low fuel on Saturday - the day he expects this season's pecking order to finally be revealed.
Most observers have agreed that the traditional winter guessing game has been harder to read than ever before this year with the top teams keeping their cards close to their chest, which in turn has allowed some of the traditional midfield teams to take centre stage on the timesheets.
Mixed weather throughout Friday at Albert Park only served to further cloud the picture, although the performance of Mercedes W03, and the uncertainty over what exactly the team are doing with their car's rear wing, received plenty of attention as Michael Schumacher ran strongly in both sessions.
Asked by Sky Sports' Ted Kravitz during The F1 Show whether he thought Mercedes might be about to spring a surprise this season, Horner said it was still impossible to tell where exactly the field was in relation to Red Bull - although did reveal his team certainly hadn't shown their low-fuel hand yet, the same tactic employed by the team to devastating effect last season.
"I've got no idea [about Mercedes]. They've got some very capable people..." the RBR Team Principal said.
"Honestly, until everybody - as Sebastian [Vettel] put it - pulls their trousers down tomorrow afternoon we're not going to know.
"They looked like they've made a good step, Lotus look like they've made a good step, McLaren look in great shape, hopefully we can be competitive too.
"But I think only really tomorrow afternoon - that will be the first time that we've taken the fuel out of our car this winter - that'll we'll see where we are."
Horner admitted Friday's inclement weather was far from ideal, but said the team still managed to gain plenty of data to inform set-up decisions for the remainder of the weekend.
"Today has been an interesting day, I think the weather's played a big part in it," he said.
"It was frustrating to have those showers come in and lose track time but we got some good running at the end of the day and the engineers and drivers are pouring over the data to come up with the right set-ups tomorrow."
With a highly competitive weekend among the leading teams anticipated, Horner reckons the addition of a second DRS zone for this year's race will only serve to increase the spectacle.
"Melbourne's fairly unique as well," he said.
"It always produces a good race and with the extra DRS zone that's going to be another factor for Sunday's race so I think you could see a lot of overtaking in the second DRS zone."