If you were trying to do some reasoning and calculations after the Formula 1 three-day test in Barcelona, well, you could probably take the piece of paper you wrote your notes on, crumple it up, and throw it in the bin – The Barcelona test sessions are just one more huge bluff. This confirmation, indirectly, comes from the words, and unusual driving style of the reigning world champion who hints at a brand new RB18 coming with a trick up its sleeve.
Indeed, Max Verstappen has announced that in Bahrain we will see a completely different Red Bull to the one that debuted on the Catalan track. After the 206 laps were completed by Max, without paying particular attention to the outcome of the lap time, the Dutchman told us what it was and, above all, what it will be for the team of Milton Keynes.
“The general situation is not easy to assess,” he explained to the official Formula One website.
“From our point of view I can say that the car was going well, the balance was absolutely positive, but at Sakhir everything will be different. Not only with regard to the three days of testing but, above all, thinking about the debut race”.
Referring to the RB18, a car that has been the subject of much debate due to the extreme solutions adopted by Adrian Newey, Verstappen continues saying:
“My work in Barcelona focused on completing as many laps as possible, trying to get everything right. Overall everything went well and we completed the program we had in mind, with an interesting progression compared to day-1″.
“As a first impact I can say that these are nice cars and fun to drive, even if the weight is higher. In my case I noticed a good balance and everything seems to be going in the right direction. Comparison with rivals is impossible at the moment.
“I haven’t looked at the times yet, we will from Q3 of the Sakhir qualifying”.
Technical analysis indicates that Verstappen appears correct in his statements, but also in his unusal driving style during the test. Not only is this specification of RB18 overweight but it also hints at a trick suspension that could produce far greater low speed grip compared to the competition.
Using the pull rod setup has enabled Red Bull designer Adrian Newey to produce a suspension that is able to ‘dive’ the nose down under heavy braking. A trait not usually favourable with racing cars, except in this situation. The new regulations mean the cars are all require front wings high off the ground compared to recent years, running the car flat instead of with the high rake concept of old.
If this is the case and works, then the RB18 will generate downforce off the nose in low speed turns, potentially giving an advantage to Verstappen and Perez in lap time. Indeed Max Verstappens’ driving style in Barcelona testing indicated a possible bluff, driving very smoothly and flat, trying to prevent the dive characteristic, therefore showing their hand to other teams.
The next tests should show us the next specification RB18 within the weight tolerances, and possibly with the dive characteristic at play, if the Red Bull team manage to get it working.