F1: Coulthard struck by the Curse of the Red Bull Gearbox

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSaturday, September 8th, 2007

 
 

David Coulthard has been felled in Monza qualifying by a reoccurrence of the dreaded transmission problems which are wrecking his team’s season.

Red Bull Racing is pioneering a seven-speed seamless-shift gearbox on its RB3 car that is designed to make sure the driver does not lose time during gear changes. The team is playing catch-up – everyone else on the grid with the exception of Spyker apparently has this technology already.

The problem is that the damned thing really doesn’t seem to work on the track, despite initially promising results in pre-season testing. It has forced both drivers into retirement after retirement – and almost certainly cost the team its second podium in Montreal.

In Istanbul two weeks ago Mark Webber was forced to retire for the fifth time after his car let go on lap nine with transmission problems – and DC himself was complaining that his car didn’t have the pace for him to capitalise on a good start.

This week it’s been Coulthard’s turn with his car spinning off the track in Q1 within seconds of the session’s end time after he lost control at the end of the long straight.

Speaking after the session a phlegmatic DC said: “We lost oil pressure in the gearbox which locked the rear axle as I was going down the gears into the first chicane and I spun off the track.

“We need to take the gearbox apart to see what the exact problem was. It was unfortunate timing for it to happen, but twentieth is now where we are for tomorrow.”

He had previously expressed frustrations with his car’s reliability, commenting after Istanbul: “I made a good start and made up a few places, I think four, and thereafter I found the car to be a bit inconsistent which did not help me maintain a good pace throughout the race, especially when I had a bit of fuel on board.”

Fabrice Lom, the Renault Principal Engineer who provides Red Bull Racing with track support, said: “We are a little bit disappointed by today’s qualifying.

“For the second race in a row, our performance was not fantastic and today we also had reliability issues as we lost David in Q1.

“The fight is still very tight but we lost some pace compared to our direct rivals which is disappointing.

“We know tomorrow’s race will be long and that may work in our favour, but first we need to ensure both cars make it to the finish. We hope to make the most of our package in race conditions, but we know it will be tough.”

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