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Page last updated at 09:32 GMT, Sunday, 19 April 2009 10:32 UK

David Coulthard column

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber
Vettel leads Webber on their way to a one-two finish for Red Bull in China

David Couthard
By David Coulthard
BBC Sport in Shanghai

I am not at all surprised to see Red Bull shine at the Chinese Grand Prix with Sebastian Vettel leading Mark Webber in a one-two victory after taking first and third places on the grid.

It all seems highly logical to me because there has been a steady, but marked, upward trend at the team and now we are seeing it come to fruition.

There is absolutely no question that this could be Red Bull's time.

Not only did I expect the team to capture their maiden victory this season, I also think they will win more than one race.

Nothing happens overnight in Formula 1. Brawn Grand Prix, winner of the first two races, may be a fresh name in the sport but they were born out of BAR, who started in F1 in 1999, and then Honda.

Adrian Newey has a proven track record when it comes to capitalising on big regulation changes

David Coulthard

Red Bull came into being in 2005 and I only agreed to drive for them once I was completely convinced of their long-term commitment and investment.

Team principal Christian Horner and owner Dietrich Mateschitz have been true driving forces behind the team's ambition.

Under Horner there has been a growth in the size of the team as part of a steady restructuring process. People who were not felt to be contributing were moved out and others were brought in.

Among the new faces was Adrian Newey, who joined in 2006. He is one of the most successful designers in F1 history and his cars have won more than 100 races.

Where Adrian has come into his own this season is interpreting the huge rule changes.

In many ways, Red Bull's history means nothing because the new regulations are so different. It may still be called Formula 1 but it is being fought under a new set of rules.

David Coulthard, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel
Coulthard interviews Webber and Vettel for the BBC on Saturday

The introduction of grooved, treaded tyres in 1998 was the last time the sport underwent major rules changes.

Back then Adrian was working at McLaren, as was I, and we went from a fairly average 1997 season to a winning Grand Prix car in 1998.

Adrian has a proven track record when it comes to capitalising on big regulation changes.

He and his team are able to think laterally and really come at the new rules with a unique perspective and squeeze every advantage out of them. That is what we are seeing on the track this season.

Red Bull's progress is not just down to Adrian but he has led the team technically and aerodynamically.

Red Bull began working on the initial concept of their car in the spring of 2008 and through the year there would have been key moments when they would have to hit targets and sign off the final creation. It takes months and months of effort.

When Mark and Sebastian drove the RB5 for the first time it felt right - though it is hard to compare the car to previous years'.

Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull in China
The Red Bull has proved quick and adaptable out of the box

From the very first running it had the right aerodynamic balance; that is the key to everything. They could run the corners flat out and mechanically were able to adjust the balance, too.

The thing that always wins, however, is lap times. You can have a car that doesn't feel too bad but you find yourself a second off the pace.

But in winter testing you could see the Red Bull was coming out with consistent lap times, which was also hugely encouraging.

It is also worth pointing out that both Vettel and Webber are running without the controversial 'double-decker' diffuser on the back of their cars.

Pace-setters Brawn and the in-form Toyota and Williams teams are all using the diffuser, which is said to be worth an extra half a second per lap.

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber
Vettel and Webber lined up one-three in qualifying in China

Red Bull are still right on the money without the diffuser - which was declared legal by governing body the FIA on Wednesday. The team are working on building their own version and believe it will yield extra performance.

I think Red Bull's qualifying result in Shanghai has more credibility than Fernando Alonso's second place for Renault.

The French team have been nowhere really in the first couple of races and although they are running with an updated diffuser Alonso was light on fuel in qualifying compared to the Brawns and Red Bulls.

A lot of people have been asking me if I feel a twinge of sadness about not driving for Red Bull during such exciting times.

Well, no, I don't. I played my part in helping develop the team and they have an ample replacement for me in Vettel.

Jonathan Legard

He is the coming man of F1.

Last season we saw the combination of Toro Rosso, Ferrari and Vettel claim pole and then victory at the Italian Grand Prix.

It may not have been a win for Red Bull Racing but it was a win for Newey and for Red Bull Technology.

It looks like there will more of them to come.

David Coulthard won 13 Grands Prix in a 15-year F1 career. He is a BBC Sport pundit and a consultant for Red Bull

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see also
The row that has split F1
17 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Button surprised by Red Bull pace
18 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Vettel on shock pole for Red Bull
18 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Chinese GP qualifying as it happened
18 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Chinese Grand Prix qualifying results
14 Apr 09 |  Results

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