Date: 4th July 2012 at 8:32am
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When Red Bull were not immediately competitive at the start of the 2012 Formula One World Championship everyone was surprised.

Winter testing had clearly shown that the gap between the top teams had closed, although Ferrari appeared to have slipped back.

But despite that, most experts were convinced that Red Bull Racing must be sand-bagging, hiding their true performance and some drivers made the same assumption that Red Bull are hardly going to develop a poor car, after winning back-to-back drivers and constructors World titles.

Then the season got under way and with every different race, there was a different winner, with five different teams standing on the top step of the podium.

The European Grand Prix in Valencia was the first race to be won by someone who had already tasted the champagne as a race winner in 2012 and that was Fernando Alonso. Now who would have predicted that when Ferrari appeared to have developed a sick horse rather than a prancing one?

But while Alonso has become the first driver to put a stamp down on this title race, it was the performance of Sebastian Vettel in Valencia that has got everyone talking.

Around the streets of Valencia, the double World Champion dominated. He took pole position and was controlling the race with ease before an alternator failure caused him to retire.

His performance was so strong that some now believe that Red Bull may have found a competitive advantage.

‘It was certainly a very impressive performance by Vettel in the last grand prix in Valencia, RBR are a team that are strong on the aero side. They have a creative group there, and they have always been extremely competitive in their strengths.’ said Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn at the FOTA Fans’ Forum event on Tuesday night, as quoted by Autosport Magazine.

So have Red Bull pulled ahead in the development race? Will Red Bull now begin to show a strong hand?

Traditionally they have been very strong around the Silverstone track and if it wasn’t for a mistake in the pits which handed victory to Alonso last season, Red Bull would have won the last three British Grand Prix’s.

With Vettel’s performance last time out, should we expect a dominant performance this weekend? Or was Red Bull’s performance in Valencia just down to them finding the sweet spot on the unpredictable 2012 Pirelli tyres?

‘my only slight reservation [about Red Bull’s performance in Valencia] was that if you get these tyres 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 tyres. 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.’