Radical RB11 to be revealed in Barcelona


Both Christian Horner and Adrian Newey have admitted that the 2013 chase for glory which saw Sebastian Vettel win the last nine races of the year, had utilised resource that should have been allocated to developing the 2014 car.

As TJ13 has reported on a number of occasions, when an F1 team finds itself behind the curve even just in terms of production, the catch up process can be tough and take weeks and months.

Noses take about 5 days from new design to completion, front wings around 10 days and gearboxes around 11 days – and where possible, the machines are running 24 hours a day.

Vettel started the Monaco GP weekend in 2014, knowing he had a patched up gearbox and no spare should it give up the ghost. This was caused by a series of unexpected gear box failures, the latest in the Barcelona test following the Spanish GP.

TJ13 also reported during the Jerez testing week, that Red Bull intended only to bring the RB11 proper for the start of the European season. The Zeb-Bull – whilst a great marketing ploy, was also used to disguise the fact that the car on display was not significantly different form the one which finished the 2014 season in Abu Dhabi.

This phenomenon of starting the year with just a modified 2014 car, only to launch the ‘all new’ version later in the season has been possible due to the relatively minor regulation changes in car design.

Both Manor F1 and Force India have adopted similar approached, though to some extent this has been forced upon them due to lack of finance, rather than from a strategic perspective.

The all new RB11 design hangs completely on a ‘short nose’ philosophy, and when revealed in Barcelona it will be around 80mm short than any other nose currently deployed on the grid.

It has been a long haul to get the most significant component for the RB11 ready for production. Red Bull Racing have FIA crash tested 62 short noses before finally version 63 provided them with a legal design to work with.

All this comes at a cost, and with noses estimated to cost no less than £50,000 – Red Bull has burned through £3m alone to get their critical design good to go.

However, TJ13 also suggested in early February, that this delay in the production of the RB11 would not be due to a new found organisational chaos in Milton Keynes where design and production deadlines were missed by not weeks but months.. Starting with the race in Barcelona, 7 races in just 11 weeks were scheduled before the summer break prior to the cancellation of the German GP.

This gives Red Bull’s competitors a tough time in copying ideas from the RB11 design and implementing them on their own cars before the summer break in August.

Many of the RB11 concepts are dependent on the aerodynamics of the short nose, and so Red Bull are expecting a one lap pace gain of between 0.75-1.0 seconds relative to the competition in Barcelona.

In Australia, Daniel Ricciardo was almost 2 seconds exactly slower than the pole position time of Lewis Hamilton. By Bahrain this had been reduced to 1.5 seconds.

However, if Mercedes are ‘managing’ their pace, it is more pertinent to compare this improvement to Red Bull’s other competitors. In Bahrain, Ricciardo was 0.9 seconds slower than second place qualifier Sebastian Vettel and 0.5 seconds than the lead Williams of Bottas.

Of course Ferrari and Mercedes will bring big upgrades for the Spanish Grand Prix, however Williams appear to be development shy at present and should Renault deliver some one lap pace improvement too – we could see a Red Bull/Ferrari battle for second place honours – at least during qualifying.

Meanwhile the secretive goings on in Red Bull’s new building 9, known as ‘Adrian’s Project’, continue apace – and staff are re-assured the team have alternative plans in place should Renault either fail to deliver or quit Formula One.

15 responses to “Radical RB11 to be revealed in Barcelona

  1. It’s difficult to imagine that Red Bull could bring that much improvement to the table. Even if they do, it might be a question of reliability. The required 63 nose crash-tests sound to me like the newest car is once more a very extreme design. But maybe I’m wrong about that; there wouldn’t be any harm to see some real battles for the third place podium if Ferrari can’t catch up to Mercedes yet.

      • So if you say 0.75 – 1 sec gain relative to the competition, it means 1.25 – 1.50 sec in actual improvement?

        • 0.75 – 1 sec gain would equal 0.25 – 0.5 sec gain if others gain 0.5 secs.

          The pace figures in the article appear to be for qualifying pace. RB will need to translate that into race pace, and that is not always done.

          Red Bull has often been clever in their set-ups. To compensate for less power they’ve used the advantage of their aero efficiencies in their chassis by leaning toward less downforce in their set-ups. In the first four races they’ve really suffered, as the aero advantage of this chassis didn’t seem as pronounced as last year’s chassis, and the power unit was disadvantaged.

          Meanwhile, for an interesting perspective on Red Bull’s struggles, it’s noteworthy that McLaren’s “Inside the MTC” pr product released an interview today which noted that about only about 50% of the upgrades that McLaren brought to a race improved the car, where as this year about 90% of the upgrades improve the car. That is significant. It’s what every technical director wants to achieve. It resembles the change that happened at Williams when Pat Symonds came on board.

          The McLaren interview features (amongst others) their Chief Engineer Peter Prodromou, who migrated from Red Bull recently.

    • Given their engine situation, even if they outqualify Willimas at every remaining race, grid penalties might still mean they finish behind them in the championship.

      Will be entertaining, though.

    • Makes sense to me… RB’s car is so behind, it really is like the 2014 cars that are struggling, like Force India, Manor.. Toro Rosso’s 2015 car is all over them! The 2014 Sauber even with a 2015 Ferrari engine! Williams need to make hay ASAP while RB and McLaren can’t beat them, which probably won’t last forever.

  2. With Mercedes crushing the opposition, largely due to superior downforce, they are really well ahead of the field even with a less than 100% operational car. Should they shore up the, so far, niggling problems they have and add aero developments that keep them apace speed-wise with the rest of the field, we’ll likely looking to the rest of the field for most of our race day enjoyment.

  3. “Adrian’s project”…. sounds worrying similar to “Qyburn’s work” in Game Of Thrones.

  4. if anything it’ll be nice to see the Colgate Kid’s gnashers again

    On a serious note, it will be telling if the aero update can make big gains. Since the rule change the pendulum has swung to the engine side of things, for now….

    • They may gain through aero developments, but they’ll lose out on the power unit side of things if Renault continue to struggle to overcome the power units many problems. I have wondered if the entire design concept behind the Renault Power Unit is fundamentally flawed or if due to pressure from Red Bull they’ve thrown caution to the wind and gone for extreme design choices in an effort to catch up with Mercedes and Ferrari, knowing that when things go pop they can redesign them under the reliability and safety regulations.

      We could be in for a real treat later in the season if McLaren Honda gets it’s act together along with Red Bull. They’ll both be charging up the field, should brighten up a few races.

      • “I have wondered if the entire design concept behind the Renault Power Unit is fundamentally flawed”

        That may well be, but I’m inclined to think that Viry-Chatillon simply don’t have the development funds needed to sort it all out in time. Since losing two customers last year, they have even less funds. Renault HQ hasn’t looked kindly on the F1 operation in recent years, so the end may be nigh… Personally I don’t see them investing in Toro Rosso, and if they lose RB (or Audi enters the fray)…


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