Sebastian Vettel thinks Red Bull Racing needs to get an F-duct system onto its car as quickly as possible, as rival teams begin introducing the McLaren-pioneered design.
Ferrari, Mercedes GP and Williams are all poised to begin evaluation of the concept in practice for this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, with BMW Sauber the only team that has so far been able to join McLaren in racing one. With Vettel under no illusions about the straightline speed advantage that McLaren has enjoyed through the F-duct, which allows drivers to stall the rear wing for added top speed, the German hopes that Red Bull Racing can introduce its version as soon as the next race.
"If you compare to the other teams and compare the sector times where you lose times and so on, it is clear on the sectors where you have more straights that you tend to lose more to a McLaren than another car," said Vettel. "It [the F-duct] is something you have to have, no matter if you have a midfield car or probably one of the best cars. It is worth quite a bit, and is quite a big advantage in terms of lap time. It probably depends on the circuit, but it is up to five tenths [of a second]. I think you would need to find a lot of parts that work well to give you half a second advantage for one lap, no matter in which conditions and which state of the car – heavy fuel loads and so on. So, everyone is under pressure to copy and come up with something similar, which is very difficult because McLaren has been planning this for a long time. And, it is not that easy even if you have it to make it work, to operate with it."
Vettel's comments come ahead of the Shanghai race, where the long back straight could firmly play into the hands of McLaren if it continues to enjoy the edge in terms of top speed.
He added: "For sure, with the system they have, it is an advantage on the straights – and we have seen it already this year. If they are behind you, and right behind you, then it is probably not easy to defend. You could go down the inside, but it is a long straight here and they would have time to go around the outside."
When asked when he hoped Red Bull Racing would be able to begin racing it, Vettel said: "I hope in Europe. Right now we don't have a fixed date, but we are working on it like everyone else."