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Posted on February 9, 2009
Red Bull hits the track..for a bit | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

The new Red Bull hit the track today, for all of 14 laps before being halted by a gearbox problem. Uh-oh. The gearbox was the Achilles Heel in 2007. Let’s hope that this is just a small teething problem.

The car looks pretty cool, I like the long think nose and the experts seem to think that there is a lot of tidy detail there, showing that the extra time in the wind-tunnel has been well spent.

56680652The fact that Adrian Newey has been pushed into the foreground on this launch is interesting and tells me two things; first that he thinks the car is a real winner and is happy to be strongly identified with its design and second that as (surely) Red Bull’s highest paid employee they are keen to get as much value out of him as possible.

Rumours have him being paid in the £8 million a year range. If the FIA gets it’s €50 million a year budget plan through, it’ll be very interesting to see how he and RBR deal with that!

It’s not uncommon for Newey cars to come out a little later that others, but with so little testing they have to hope that the reliability is there.

Mark Webber drives the car on Wednesday. I’m told that he is well ahead of schedule on his rehab because he’s very fit and because he’s done all the right things to get it to heal as well as possible. It’s the right leg, so not the load bearing leg for braking. If he was doing a load bearing sport, like soccer he’d be out for another three months.

Team principal Christian Horner mentioned in his Q&A that the team will slim down a little because there is no test team. The figure I hear is that there will be 70 redundancies.

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Red Bull hits the track..for a bit
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  1.   1. Posted By: Finn
        Date: February 9th, 2009 @ 9:19 pm 

    It won’t be hard for teams to work budgets to their advantage.

    I’ll set up a company called Rouge Moo Can Designs. I’ll employ Adrian for £8m a day to design cans (he can sketch one out for me!) and I’ll charge Red Bull the drinks company £8.1m a year for my company’s design work. Adrian can then work for the rest of the time for Red Bull F1 and be paid £1 a year – leaving Red Bull F1 plenty of budget capped funds to play with.

    To think F1 teams can be constrained to set budgets with the way they are owned is just too simplistic.

    I’ll also open a company selling tooth picks to Mercedes. I’ll charge them £50m a year and pay £49.9 million a year to my tooth pick tester Mr L Hamilton. He’ll have to work 1 day a year testing toothpicks (after a fine meal somewhere). Mr Hamilton can then be an amateur sportsman and race for Macca F1 for free.

    Budget cap? In your dreams.

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  2.   2. Posted By: speedmerchants
        Date: February 9th, 2009 @ 10:20 pm 

    JA writes: Finn, thanks for your continued input and good luck with Rouge Moo, but I’m not sure that’s how this is planned. The current proposal is nothing to do with budget capping as they’ve accepted that that won’t be policeable.

    This new plan is deciding that many areas of the car will be areas in which teams don’t compete with each other technically. So let’s say that leaves ten areas in which they do compete. Market forces will dictate how much an engineer is worth and how many you need in that scenario.

    The idea is to limit ways you can succeed simply by spending more money (and doing a better job as a result)

    Not saying it’s the answer, but it’s what’s proposed.

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  3.   3. Posted By: Finn
        Date: February 9th, 2009 @ 10:57 pm 

    Thanks, James. But teams could still contract engineers from an *agency* at a low rate … leaving teams to use their money in other areas, such as wind tunnel testing, etc. It will always be possible to massage the numbers, so how do you cap any area of F1 work … I must be missing the point. Where’s the cap/control in the ten areas of competition?

    Teams don’t need to pay vast sums direct to engineers or anyone … costs can always be defrayed by using *outside* agencies and tweaking the fees paid to such companies by channelling funds into them from other avenues.

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  4.   4. Posted By: Jason C
        Date: February 9th, 2009 @ 11:16 pm 

    Every time I hear about a new team’s launch and their preparations, I think they will turn out to be the ones to beat in 09.

    What I’m getting at is now, thinking about such a big change in the rules, it’s so difficult to even have a good idea of who will come out best.

    Ferrari and McLaren are always touted as being contenders even before the season’s stared, yet with such a change, there’s every possibility that one or both of them have produced a dog. Especially after taking last year’s car development right to the last race.

    Renault of course came on strongly late last year, but they were helped out by luck and other people’s mistakes. BMW are supposed to have a head start and RBR have the superstar design team.

    It must be such a headache for the bookies. You know what I would find quite satisfying? Team Brackley-Mercedes (née Honda) winning in Aus. And then I woke up.

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  5.   5. Posted By: Keith Collantine
        Date: February 9th, 2009 @ 11:37 pm 

    The current proposal is nothing to do with budget capping as they’ve accepted that that won’t be policeable.

    Didn’t Mosley bring it up again recently? I agree with you though, not just that they couldn’t police it, but also they could never persuade everyone that it was being policed.

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  6.   6. Posted By: Malcolm46
        Date: February 9th, 2009 @ 11:46 pm 

    Yes, the Red Bull does look much more developed than other cars we saw in the January tests. But then again, all the other teams have been developing those cars based on the data they got from the test, so will be interesting to see where they have ended up at the next test soon.

    The teams €50 million budget is also a very interesting point, and I think ‘Finn’ may have been exaggerating slightly, the point is true, there are ways of getting round it. We could see what happens in football with the (although its meant to be outlawed it still happens) tapping up of players, like giving them gifts, cash, travel etc as sweeteners to the deal. I do generally support the idea of a budget cap, but do have my reservations as to how it would be implemented.

    Also going slightly off at a tangent…. James, you got any inside information into this proposed American F1 team? Please dont tell me this would involve bringing back Scott Speed?! Jokes aside, is the project actually going to take off?

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  7.   7. Posted By: david
        Date: February 10th, 2009 @ 4:07 am 

    But a proposal that somehow still misunderstands markets and the nature of competition … they could ram through non-compete legislation on everything but wheel-nuts (to borrow a famous example), and to what end, teams would still be spending all the money they could burn on lighter, faster, more expensive, ever-more exotic and disposable wheel nuts.

    No matter how marginal the benefits, a thin thousandth, if fancy aero-wheel nuts cast from pure unobtainium are left as the only differentiator, and represent the difference between qualifying 1st or 3rd, then Vodafone and Marlboro will always stump up the necessary multiple millions. £8million metallurgists as the new rock-stars replacing aerodynamicists on the payroll, ceramics gurus meditating, CFD farms petaflopping and nano-tech foundries working round the clock to produce wheelnuts made out of comet-dust and carbon60.

    It’s darwinian and it’s beautiful. that is the aggressive, ridiculous, anachronistic essence of F1 surely? That’s why this blog isn’t called AllenonA1. Central-planning versus free-market … Max versus Ron, perhaps.

    Anyhow, the RB5 looks quite lovely, doesn’t it.

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  8.   8. Posted By: Dan Brunell
        Date: February 10th, 2009 @ 6:12 am 

    [ First time post. Love the blog so far ] In all due respects to McLaren, I think the Red Bull is by far the best looking car so far this year. It also looks the most developed with that sculpted wings and that “broken” nose. Wither it is fast on the track, I guess we will all find out in Melbourne.

    I am really interested in what Newey and Patrick Head can develop this year. With slicks, lower downforces, and KERS; a good stable chassis and mechanical grip will be at a premium. This seems to play into their hands and experience a little bit.

    Random question 1: I thought that salaries were exempt from Max’s proposed salary cap and just focused on development costs. I can imagine the GPDA having a heart attack if their wages are apart of any salary cap. What exactly will be covered by salary cap?

    Random question 2: As an American, I am cautiously optimistic about the proposed USF1 team. I hear a lot of solid names involved and rumors are swirling about. This is probably a different post, but is all this for real?

    [Reply]


  9.   9. Posted By: Stephen
        Date: February 10th, 2009 @ 8:49 am 

    I would be interested to hear what the experts have to say about the different wing and nose designs.

    It seems that the RBR car looks like a continued evolution of the 2008 design cars (if there can be such a thing) while the Renault and the BMW seem to be evolutions of the Sauber Kimi was driving back in the 90s, with the very block like nose.

    Oh and does everyone else share my concern that every first corner of the 1009 season will see 5 nose cones broken meaning that the person who reaches the first corner in the lead will have a 20 second gap by lap 3?

    [Reply]


  10.   10. Posted By: speedmerchants
        Date: February 10th, 2009 @ 9:55 am 

    JA writes: David, thanks for your comment. You are right in what you say to a point, but one aspect of Tony Purnell’s white paper on how to achieve the €50 million team budget (and remember this is a target not a cap) you may have missed is that if team chooses to compete in an area of technology, they must then make the technology they develop available to the privateer teams at an affordable cost. This reduces the incentive and advantage of throwing tons of money at your wheel nuts or whatever.

    It’s a very new kind of thinking and I’m still working it out for myself. On the face of it I can see some attraction, as log as it find the right balance between the sustainability of the sport and the Darwinian competition you mention.

    It starts with the premise which all the teams seem reasonably happy with; that the fair way to control costs is to have ‘non-compete’ areas, such as the engine and drivertrain. The top teams still want only a few areas of noncompete, but with the economy being so dire at the moment, the feeling of the FIA is that they need to impose a lot of areas of non-compete, then re-introduce areas of competition when the economy picks up. The engine is one they have identified, they’d introduce engine competition where you have to get as much power and performance as you can out of a fixed amount of fuel.

    The above is the nub of what’s being discussed at the moment. Personally, from speaking to friends in industry, banking and business the economic situation is nowhere near as bad yet as it’s going to get in 2010 and 2011. F1 is an expensive non-essential for many big companies, but if the costs are brought down (and the revenues go up, but that’s another story) then F1 can be sustainable.

    As for an American team, it’s convenient that something like this should pop up at a time when the talk is of lots of people being interested if the budgets are brought down to €50 and no-doubt negotiations are going on to get back to the USA. That said, Peter Windsor has always wanted his own team, he tried to get a Japanese project off the ground in the 1990s with Enrique Scalabroni.

    I’ll find out more and post on it.

    [Reply]


  11.   11. Posted By: rpaco
        Date: February 10th, 2009 @ 10:47 am 

    Stephen: I shall be down the bookies with a bet on at least 6 front wings!
    I suspect that since they now protrude about six inches outside the front wheels and a yard in front, a couple may be written off by pit crew treading on or falling over them, either that or drivers knocking them off driving out of the garages.

    Maybe they should have those sticks on the corners with flags on like army lorries used to have. :-)

    Another factor will be the ground clearance, this now at the front is almost back to the ground effect days and since it’s further in front of the wheels, the kerb will hit it before the front wheel lifts it.

    Does anyone agree that the nose aero shape looks upside down?

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  12.   12. Posted By: Finn
        Date: February 10th, 2009 @ 3:46 pm 

    The concave arc of the underneath of the nose looks like it should create lift/turbulence to me as the air comes off the front wing and into/around the wheels … but presumably the areo testing shows that this isn’t the case. (Especially with weight distribution balancing things out, perhaps?)

    It also looks very light at the front end and it will be interesting to see how well it will turn in without the front bobbing up and jacking away from the direction of the entry to the corner.

    I think the tyre wear front/back will be a very interesting part of the RB.

    I’m also intrigued as to how KERS impacts on such an apparently light and open front end.

    [Reply]


  13.   13. Posted By: rpaco
        Date: February 10th, 2009 @ 7:09 pm 

    Finn: Yes you expect a convex side profile of the underside of the nose, like that great one that Alonso won with before the mass damper was banned (another brilliant thing that worked too well so it had to go).
    Mr Newey said the tyre wear was going to be a problem, with the rears wearing out first. The KERS drag alone will tend to wear the rears more so if it is variable then the brake balance will need to be adjusted to suit the level of KERS charging. Next year thinner fronts or fatter rears?

    Of course they have put the batteries under the fuel tank to try and shift the centre of mass a bit further forward.

    Do the moveable flaps have to work together or can they be used for pulling the car into the corner?

    [Reply]


  14.   14. Posted By: Stephen Kellett
        Date: February 11th, 2009 @ 4:11 pm 

    Its football, not soccer. Sorry, I don’t like our language being damaged, one word at a time.

    [Reply]


  15.   15. Posted By: Jon
        Date: February 13th, 2009 @ 8:14 pm 

    If football is soccer, then what do you call Rugby? Is it not also football? Or “footy”. :D

    [Reply]


  16.   16. Posted By: malcolm46
        Date: February 14th, 2009 @ 5:39 pm 

    Jon, in answer to your question: Egg Chasing.

    [Reply]

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