Minichamps' Renault RB8 races to top spot
Red Bull Racing Renault RB8
PRICE £54.99 LIMIT NOT SPECIFIED SCALE 1/43 REF NO 410 120001
As the advert goes, ‘Red Bull gives you wings!’ Whether Sebastian Vettel prefers the caffeine-laced elixir as his favourite beverage is anyone’s guess (perhaps they actually put it in the car?), but regardless, the mating of Red Bull’s design, Renault’s engine and the maestro from Germany have brought new vitality to Formula One… and the youngest champion in the sport’s history.
The superlative statistics quickly racked up; he’s also the youngest double-title winner after recording back-to-back championship wins (2010/2011), then he secured a hat-trick by winning last year’s season.
It’s easy to draw comparisons with Michael Schumacher in terms of racing prowess, but Vettel is a different animal, less machine-like, although his rise has unarguably been nothing short of mercurial.
After finishing second in 2003’s Formula BMW series, it became obvious that he was special and was snapped up by Williams and BMW-Sauber for test driving.
He soon earned third driver status on the team and also became the youngest racer ever to participate in a Grand Prix weekend at the Turkish GP. Vettel’s big step finally came when Robert Kubica was temporarily side-lined after an accident, and Vettel stepped into his shoes in 2005’s US GP.
The Heppenheim-born driver passed the chequered flag in eighth place for a single point and, cue yet another statistic, he became F1’s youngest ever scorer.
But, earlier experience with Red Bull (as part of the team’s junior programme) prompted fierce loyalty to the team and conscience and desire paid off… he eventually earned a race seat with Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2007 and it only took until the following year for more of the limelight.
The ‘youngest’ statistics kept on coming; he snatched pole winner status at Monza and impressively ensured his team’s first win. The rest, as they say, is history and the baby-faced wizard looks set to continue to dominate. Along with fellow driver Mark Weber, the duo will undoubtedly win further glory for Red Bull this year.
There are several models of Vettel’s cars, in 1/18 scale (see What’s New in this issue) and 1/43 scale, but the rendition examined here is in the latter scale and in some respects, is better for it. Models in 1/18 scale have to be exceptional to avoid looking toy-like; more diminutive replicas find it easier to shine without costing the earth.
Minichamps’ example pulls out all the stops in terms of detail and is a top-notch facsimile of the real RB8 from 2012. For starters, one plus-point is that due to fewer and finer bodywork panel lines, there is no splitting of the sponsors’ decals… all are smoothly applied and follow the complex curves perfectly. Red Bull branding is impressively rendered on the front aero device where it has had to contend with multiple layers and linkage bars, but no lifting or breaks are visible whatsoever.
The carbon fibre and suspension parts look very realistic for the scale, possessing a super-fine striped pattern which looks great when hit by the right light. And another bonus is the accurate reproduction of the wheels, but mostly with regard to the front pair with their complicated format.
The yellow paint on the nose and air scoop has excellent opacity, the shade being notorious for poor coverage ordinarily. And one can’t help but be impressed by the dainty detailing on the steering wheel, along with the life-like driver figure and his highly accurate overalls and helmet.
Success will find Vettel like he finds a gap (when he’s not leading from pole!) and along with the victories will come further models of this talented driver’s machines. Let’s hope they’re all as good as this.