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What can we expect from Red Bull?
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What can we expect from Red Bull?
Posted By:   |  07 Feb 2009   |  8:25 am GMT  |  17 comments

Red Bull launches the new car on Monday in Jerez and they seem to be getting quite excited about it in the build up to the event. We’ve had Mark Webber saying that it’s the best looking of the 2009 cars so far and their website is pretty gushing about it. It talks about the car being a creation from the drawing board (literally because he still uses one) of Adrian Newey.

He’s overdue a real winner of a car and this year is a pretty vital one for the team as they have to take a serious step closer to the front-runners to justify the massive investment. They have been threatening to do it for some time, but it’s not materialised.

They had reliability issues with the 2007 car, while last year, although the car was reliable, they went the wrong way on development just as the car was starting to show some real speed. After Webber qualified on the front row in Silverstone and then spun on the opening lap, it never returned to those giddy heights and scored just five points after that, sliding to seventh in the championship. It didn’t help that the Renault engine was down on power compared to everyone else’s, not least Toro Rosso’s Ferrari unit. But that wasn’t the whole story.

The technical team under Newey and Geoff Willis has been given the time and space to bed in and now it’s time to deliver. A major set of rule changes gives the well funded midfield teams a chance to get it right and take a leap forward. You’d still expect Ferrari and McLaren to outdevelop them over a season, but it’s possible that a Red Bull could be on the front row in Melbourne if Newey and team have got their sums right.

I mentioned here before that his track record in his heyday was very good on rule changes, if you think of the 1996 Williams with the high cockpit sides and the 1998 McLaren, the first of the narrow track cars. So let’s see if he’s rediscovered his Muse. He and Willis form an impressive unit, as they did at Williams and I just sense from the confident noises coming out of the team that they feel they might have a shot at that elusive win this year.

Webber deserves a year in a really good car to show what he can do. I rate him highly for his speed, be just needs to show he can turn in consistent race performances week after week. He had a run of strong results in the first half of last season race, but then it frustratingly got away from them.

He’s been taking the rehabilitation from his broken leg, sustained in a cycling accident, very seriously. Apparently he uses a cryogenic chamber to speed up blood flow around the break. It sounds scary.

“I’ve been doing it for three weeks now,” says Mark on the Red Bull website. “You go from a normal, ambient room temperature into a chamber of -50ºC for about 30 seconds and then for another three minutes into -130ºC.

“It’s very good for your general well-being, your immune system, and apparently for cellulite. Not much of a worry for me … but it’s very good for the whole body.”

Maybe he’s taking in a little botox and a tummy tuck while he’s at it! Anyway, he’s really going to be up against it this year because in Sebastien Vettel, RBR have a superb talent. His ability in the wet and in changeable conditions is well known, but then Rubens Barrichello excelled in those conditions too. The question is does he have all the other tricks in his locker?

What we started to see from Vettel in the final part of the season was sustained, consistent speed and an ability to make things happen, two of the most vital components for a Grand Prix front-runner. If he also has a strong mentality, which we’ll find out this year, then he could be the real deal, as Bernie believes him to be.

Anyway, this morning those cunning boys and girls from Red Bull marketing posted this animated film of the new car, with a voice over from Vettel. It’s a great explanation of the 2009 rule changes, a sneak peak at what the new car will look like (or so they make out) and a brilliant animation of how KERS works. Take a look:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dzSBtmytmk]

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17 Comments
  1. Bradley says:

    They’ve certainly got the drivers, but that technical team really has to deliver this year, doesn’t it? I’m still not convinced that beyond Newey and Willis, they have a structure in place that can reliably design, build and develop the car – it’s all very well having a star designer, but as we always say, one man cannot do it all these days. And Newey and Willis were a successful unit back when an F1 team comprised 150 people in total – rather than a 150 person design group, linking with many other subdepartments.

    I’ve a feeling they rather hid behind the Renault engine’s lack of power in 2008 – after all, the Renault car/engine combo wasn’t too shabby by the end of the year, was it? In my eyes, they had some speed and no reliability in ’07; in ’08, reliability and no real speed apart from that solitary flash at Silverstone.

    I remember, though, James, a conversation on the steps up to the media centre in Brazil at the end of 2007, where you tipped RBR for great success in ’08… ;-) Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, perhaps?!

  2. Lee Grant says:

    Great animation. That’s the sort of stuff that the public need to see to make the sport more accessible.

    I loved the inserts Martin Brundle did for ITV (also with Red Bull) and I think they won some awards.

    Wouldn’t it be great to see some more features like this that cover more technical topics?

    Well done James, a great find!

  3. rpaco says:

    I am bemused by the fact that the soup-meister still uses a drawing board. (I started on the drawing board many hundreds of years ago) Whilst I am sure that he can “see” the airflow over a body or aero part just as Neo “sees” the Matrix, if it is actually drawn in pencil on paper, it will all need to be digitised and fed into the CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Manufacture) system to be turned into a “solid model” in the “computer’s mind”.

    Characteristics of various materials are also fed in. Then many things can be done, it can be tested (Using FEA Finite Element Analysis) within the programme to see how it will bend or break. It can output an STL (Stereo Lithography) file which will enable a full size replica of the item to be “Grown” in a tank of resin. This can then be used for physical airflow tests or as a buck from which a mould is constructed to make the actual item. Alternatively a file may be output to use on a machine tool for making or finishing metal parts.

    By now it should be possible pretty much to design and test parts entirely within the computer without ever making them. This way saves a lot of cash in making things that wont work efficiently or would break. Curves and shapes can be changed gradually and re-tested repeatedly until they are at the optimum. However I would imagine that the vibration, water impact and and unusual wind effects ie side winds and those from passing cars and kerb lifts, can only be simulated on physical test rigs.

    The Renault engine was the only one allowed to be tweaked over the winter, will this help Red Bull up the grid?

  4. speedmerchants says:

    JA writes: Ah Bradley, always a big seller of RBR. You are probably right, but let’s see what they turn up. No doubt that it’s a big year for them.

  5. Bradley says:

    I’d be delighted to prove wrong – Vettel is fantastic, and Webber deserves it as much as anybody. But I just don’t sense the clarity of purpose, and operation, that you see in winning teams… like Toro Rosso ;-)

  6. Matthew Villari says:

    I think Newey deserves just a bit of respect don’t you? After all, he’s never built (Bar probably the MP4/19 which a shambles) a really bad car, at the very least it will be decent.

  7. Paul L says:

    As an Australian follower of the sport, I have yearned for Mark Webber to be able to show what he can do, be he a true potential winner or just a good average driver.

    Whereas most seasons the potential evaporates during the course of unreliability, poor development, accidents that are someone else’s doing, or electrical surges, this season it seems the huge weight disadvantage (13kg heavier than Vettel) and fitness setback due to the broken leg will spoil his campaign from the start.

    I’m not saying he’s played no part in the disappointing results of his career, clearly race-pace could be improved, but for goodness sake – give him a proper chance for once!

  8. chris says:

    The animation suggests that the new red bull shares a similar aero philosophy to the ferrari with a long narrow nose and the controversial turning vanes on the side pods. They have also taken mclarens airbox detail. Has Neweys effectiveness diminished over the last decade with the rise of sophisticated analysis and simulation tools? Mclaren don’t seam to miss his presence. Newey and his team did pioneer the shark fin though.

  9. rpaco says:

    Chris: I suspect that the instinctive design ability possessed by the soup-meister has, as you say, been caught up by sophisticated computer design packages. BUT he will always go down as one of the greats.

  10. James says:

    That video is brilliant. It’s great to have a visual comparison of the 09 cars to the 08 cars. I have noticed that Red Bull have opted to have their wing mirrors attached to the under tray of the car, much like Ferrari’s wing mirrors (although not as extreme or pronounced). This did get me thinking though. Should the mirrors be damaged due to an incident with another car, would they be black flagged/black and orange flagged on grounds of safety to others and spectators? Seems like a bit of a grey area to me.

  11. rpaco says:

    Well its a nice looking bit of kit, but the extra deflector or guide plates on the outside of the sidepods were the very sort things I thought had been banned. Does anyone know about this or do I have to read the tech regs?

    The front wing assy looks like it’s attached to the nose cone only by a couple of thin members, the whole thing looks incredibly delicate and easy to break.

  12. chris says:

    Indeed rpaco, Newey is a legend. I think Red Bull should go one step further and embellish his myth with tales about how the RB5 was drafted with chalk and sculpted in play dough.

    I too thought that pod wings and large vanes were banned for this year. We will have to wait for Melbourne to get a grasp of the legality of each car. I would be very amused if mclaren launched an appeal against ferrari or vice versa, but the happy FOTA family may make teams think twice about complaining. Maybe it will be down to bernie and max to step in and spice up the scrutineering process.

    I do like this new RB5 though, as it is definitely the most elegant car on the grid. Good luck Red Bull.

    For those interested in the animation, check out the firm http://www.aixsponza.com who did a sterling job on the red bull singapore race animation. It looks like they did this one too. There is a making of thread by one of the animators here:

    http://vrayforc4d.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3637&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

  13. rpaco says:

    M__E: Well having done it both ways I can tell you that there is a considerable amount of stuff to save part from the pencil and paper.. Then if you are messy like me you will smudge the title block after spending ages printing all the details in longhand, then loose your calculations sheet all done by sliderule. I may be lazy but I far prefer to use AutoCad or better still ProE

  14. M__E says:

    Rpaco…but the pencil and paper have no fear of ever crashing and loosing all the data! ;- D

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