Red Bull Racing is on course to have its new car ready for the first official test at Valencia on Feb. 1. While title rival McLaren is set to use an interim car for the first test of 2011, with its new MP4-26 car scheduled to be launched in Berlin on February 4, Red Bull Racing says it is sticking to its original plan to test its '11 contender at Valencia.
Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner told AUTOSPORT: "We're on schedule for first test. It will be extremely tight to be there and ready on time, but that is our aim. We will be confirming our plans, and details about the launch, soon."
In previous years, Red Bull Racing has opted to delay the introduction of its new car for as long as possible so it can gain more valuable development time in the wind tunnel. Last year, the team's RB6 did not appear at the first test at Valencia as Adrian Newey wanted extra time to perfect its design before committing it to production.
This time around, Red Bull Racing wanted to get the car running at Valencia because it wanted to gather as much data as possible about how the new-for-2011 Pirelli tires will interact with the current cars. Red Bull's motorsport advisor Helmut Marko suggested that the car was likely to go straight into track testing without a substantial launch event first.
"We start into the winter testing without [a] formal launch, but we intend to use the RB7 right from the beginning in Valencia," he said. "It will be very tight, but we are still on schedule with the new car."
McLaren is not the only team whose new car will not appear at the first test. Force India, Virgin Racing and HRT have all confirmed that they will be user older models for the Valencia week.