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Red Bull’s unveiling for all intense and purposes sets the benchmark in terms of design for 2013 with the other lead teams already showing that they have converged on ideas running through the RB5-RB8’s lineage. I talked about Red Bull / Newey’s adoption of halfshaft shrouding many times last season but the piece that really showed this was when I traced it’s evolution through from the RB5 in the second part of my technical assessment of Red Bull.
The integration of the halfshaft within the lower wishbone has been seen on the McLaren, Force India, Ferrari and Sauber so far allowing the exhaust plume to pass un-encumbered over the rear of the cars floor, by doing this the teams are also raising the wishbone further clearing the airflow path.
Toward the end of last years campaign Red Bull installed a myriad of updates to the Red Bull with the key goal of exploiting DDRS (Double DRS). Unlike the Mercedes system Red Bull simply opted to further reduce drag at the rear of the car via the beam wing but with the other changes they made (Front Wing, Nosecone under belly, FOM camera’s moved into the hammerhead position and exhaust ramp and cross-under tunnel rearrangements) they were able to create a more stable platform – Red Bull recent development analysis
The 2012 season for Red Bull uncharacteristically started on a low which we now know was due to the FIA altering it’s perspective on the exhaust solution that Newey and the design team had prepared just prior to testing. I believe the idea behind their original system was the re-ingestion of exhaust gases through a section attached to the brake ducts allowing them to re-direct the airflow into the critical region between the rear wheel and diffuser wall.
When this was restricted the team went back to the drawing board and redesigned the RB8 but with time before the start of the season at a premium the team struggled to correlate it’s design between CFD, Wind Tunnel and real world scenarios leading a small downturn in fortune. This is why we saw a rise in comparable form of Mark Webber at the start of the season as he is able to extract more from a more squirrely rear end where as Sebastian thrives on a firmly planted aero car.
The question we must ask is how close will the unveiled RB9 car of today be to the one that features at Melbourne? Red Bull have in the past opted to show little at launch in favour of baselining the car at testing and then adding their aero configuration throughout the test scenario. It would appear from the outset that the RB9 also follows this path with the RB8’s DNA fimrly scattered across the car. Fans and media alike were dissapointed to find that Red Bull were being very confrontational about pictures being taken of their 2013 challenger. Simultaneously the team released the following video via Youtube.
The first few minutes show the viewer some of the details that goes into making a Red Bull Racing car (see my article here on some of this: Red Bull racing historic technical
With the media on lock down at the launch the quantity of good quality pictures available to assess the RB9 is limited but as usual the team also released the following renders:
When compared to the RB8 renders (below) we can see that the car is clearly an evolution (albeit the RB8 renders show the car pre exhaust and cross-under tunnel)
Let’s start from the front and work our way down the carFront Wing: As usual on F1 launch cars thiese don’t change drastically from their 2012 challengers but it’s an area where i’m sure Red Bull will have invested time due to the increased load testing introduced throughout 2012. Some minor alterations to the design of the top flap with the upper inner portion of the flap looking like it protrudes vertically and is has a more bulbous top edge. I suspect we will see a new design during testing.
In terms of the nose the frontal section of the nose carries the hammerhead appearance it’s predecessor did at the end of 2012 courtesy of the FOM camera mounting positions. The Nose tip itself once again droops down from the pylons forward in stark contrast to their rivals who seem intent on clearing as much space under the nose as possible.
Retained from the Singapore onward spec under the nose is the curved underbelly which goes some way to manipulating the airflow heading toward the keel and then onward to the Sidepods. Newey and the team not one to shy away from thinking of aero over aesthetics have kept a step nose on the RB9. Instead of the abrupt shelf like step with cooling slot on the RB8, the RB9 utilises the vanity panel to extend the step transforming it into a slope much like how Lotus have done with the E20/1.
As we can see from the 2 pictures the nosecone region tapers in toward the bulkhead allowing the step to also taper outwards. From the lower nose picture we can see how this sculptured piece of bodywork allows the air to migrate from the nose over the control arms.
As we can see from the blurry picture above it does appear the team may have adopted a slimline version of Saubers rearward facing duct (fed via an S duct from below the nose) I’ll keep looking for a better image in the meantime
The Front Wing pylons have also been treated to some attention and are seemigly wider at the bottom following the McLaren trend (When viewed from the front). From the side the pylons also taper from the top down to their connection with the mainplane.
Moving along the car we can see that the Sidepods haven’t been treated to a dramatic change in philosophy but the team have added a nice piece of detail on the floors edge. The Floor Scroll is detached from the floor itself bar a few a few connecting strakes and courtesy of F1_Aero over on twitter he explains that ‘ It’s designed to increase the draw under the front of the floor and provide a stronger floor edge vortex for floor sealing’
On top the Sidepods the airflow is conditioned by the same elements used last season
At the rear of the car, the launch version at least is treated to a similar exhaust and cross-under tunnel configuration used throughout 2012 with the halfshaft cover remaining and 3 Vertical strakes placed either side of the Coke Bottle region and under the shroud to help distribute the airflow.
Lastly we have the Monkey Seat which is fairly innocuous with the only real thing of design merit being the large perforation between the two wing sections it uses. It does however sit on a curved section of the Beam Wing which has been designed to allow air to pass between the Wing and Structure.
In summary just like all the launches that have preceded it the Red Bull car launch acted as a way of showing off commercial partners and so doesn’t show it’s hand, we must therefore wait til testing to truly see what they have up their sleeve.