Red Bull Racing's true advantage over the rest of the field will become clear at this weekend's British Grand Prix, reckons Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn, amid concerns from the champion team's rivals that its performance in Valencia is a sign that it could now be clear at the front of the field.
Sebastian Vettel dominated the European GP weekend before retiring with an alternator failure, and the ease with which he controlled the event has left some worried that the German could be about to return to a period of dominance. But Brawn wants to see how the Red Bull cars perform at Silverstone, because he thinks some of its Valencia advantage could have been down to exploiting tires rather than outright aerodynamic performances.
"It was certainly a very impressive performance by Vettel in the last grand prix in Valencia," said Brawn during a FOTA Fans' Forum event at Williams on Tuesday night. "RBR are strong on the aero side. They have a creative group there, and they have always been extremely competitive in their strengths.
"But my only slight reservation was that if you get these [Pirelli] tires to work and get them in the window, you can have a huge gap to those that don't. In our own case, Nico [Rosberg] was comfortably on pole in China and could drive the race he wanted to, whereas with the same car and tyres we struggled at other races.
"I don't think that is the case with Red Bull but I hope it is. They were clearly in a strong position with that car and those tires. Silverstone has traditionally been a good race for them, it's high speed with high-speed corners... so let's see how it evolves.
"It has been a great year for variation, and it was a great performance from Red Bull in Valencia, but I hope it is not an omen for future."
Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley echoed Brawn's belief that Silverstone will show just how competitive Red Bull is, and what task its opposition faces.
"I think RBR have clearly made a big step in their aero package for Valencia," he said. "I don't think we saw the full potential of it [in Valencia]. Silverstone is a circuit that features for the aero side, and we will see where Red Bull is at that point. I expect them to be quick and it will challenge all teams to look at what they are doing."