Winning once is one thing, winning again is something else. Red Bull have won the Constructors' Championship (literally) again and again and again and again - yet that was under a period of rule stability. Things will be quite different in 2014; can they maintain their position at the top of the tree?
There's no reason to assume that the Austrian-backed, Milton Keynes-based outfit will drop the ball. After all, they have everything in place a truly top team requires. But having got it so spectacularly right the last time the sport underwent such a shake-up, perhaps it's the case that Red Bull's rivals be able to react better this time.
That the technological shift centres upon the engine/power unit implies that the influence of Adrian Newey, Red Bull's Chief Technical Officer and a man clearly unrivalled in his understanding of how airflow affects performance, will be lessened. Yet their success has also forged a preferred partnership with Renault, who themselves have a track record of reacting strongly to such changes, and it's hardly the case that the importance of aerodynamics has suddenly been neutered. Far from it; there's still more than enough to keep Newey occupied, with Red Bull's recent splurge of success suggesting that his vision burns brighter than ever.
Sebastian Vettel's own talent certainly appears to be. It's often been said that his ability to exploit the ace in Red Bull's pack during the past few seasons, their understanding of blown exhaust/diffuser technology, has been central to the success the partnership has enjoyed. But although the changes all-but eliminate potential gains in that particular area, rest assured that new avenues will be opened.
Such a blinding combination of talent, inspiration and hard work obscures, and also contradicts, initial perceptions of Red Bull's F1 arrival, which came about after energy drinks magnate Dietrich Mateschitz took over the failed Jaguar project at the end of 2004. At that time, they seemed to be more interested in throwing lavish paddock parties than achieving on-track success.
It was a perception they heartily encouraged in the early days and success was slow at first, with Red Bull's first podium arriving courtesy of David Coulthard at Monaco in 2006. Yet behind the scenes, Mateschitz and team boss Christian Horner were surely putting all the pieces in place for their eventual domination. Newey was hired that year, while other recruits also made crucial contributions. For example, Geoff Willis, who served a two-year stint at the team between 2007 and 2009, was widely credited with overhauling manufacturing process and improving reliability.
Mark Webber joined the team at the same time and but it was when Vettel arrived in 2009 that everything clicked. That coincided with the introduction of Newey's RB5, which might not have had the double diffuser sported by Brawn's title-winning car, but proved more than a match as the season progressed.
Despite securing the team's first win in China, Vettel's title challenge always appeared likely to fall short that year but the disappointment was short-lived as he became the sport's youngest ever World Champion in 2010 instead. Yet a measure of Red Bull's newfound eminence was that Webber had been a title contender too; indeed, he appeared better-placed until his team-mate's opportunism (not to mention some poor strategy calls) prevailed in Abu Dhabi.
To say that their partnership flourished is clearly an understatement but what gave Vettel wings was the way he could adapt his driving technique to squeeze all the performance he could from his car's blown exhaust and diffuser. It was a trick Webber could never manage and with the technology developing rapidly in 2011, the young German easily retained the title with 12 wins and a record number of pole positions.
Webber hit back for a time in 2012 when new rules blunted the power of blown exhausts but as Red Bull started to claw their advantage back, it was Vettel who once again made hay as a late surge saw him overtake Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and take a third straight title.
He and Red Bull were even more dominant in 2013 - not that the season was without its dramas. Horner's authority was undermined by Vettel's decision to ignore team orders and pass Webber on his way to victory in Malaysia, with the Australian announcing his retirement from F1 by mid-season. An unbroken run of success after that told its own story and while even the team won't expect a similar level of attainment this coming season, they will expect to challenge once more.
- Infiniti Red Bull Racing
- Debut: 2005 ()
- Headquarters: Milton Keynes, UK
- Team Principal: Christian Horner
- Test Driver: Antonio Da Costa
- Constructors' Championships: 4
- Races: 176
- Wins: 48
- Pole Positions: 57
Pos Driver Nationality Team Pts 1 Rosberg Mercedes 190.0 2 Hamilton Mercedes 176.0 3 Ricciardo Red Bull 106.0 4 Alonso Ferrari 97.0 5 Bottas Williams 91.0 6 Vettel Red Bull 82.0 7 Hulkenberg Force India 69.0 8 Button McLaren 59.0 9 Magnussen McLaren 37.0 10 Massa Williams 30.0 11 Perez Force India 29.0 12 Raikkonen Ferrari 19.0 13 Vergne Toro Rosso 9.0 14 Grosjean Lotus 8.0 15 Kvyat Toro Rosso 6.0 16 Bianchi Marussia 2.0 17 Sutil Sauber 0.0 18 Ericsson Caterham 0.0 19 Maldonado Lotus 0.0 20 Gutierrez Sauber 0.0 21 Chilton Marussia 0.0 22 Kobayashi Caterham 0.0