F1 Winter Break
Red Bull unveil the car they all have to beat
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Feb 2012   |  4:41 pm GMT  |  189 comments

Red Bull Racing today unveiled the RB8, the car with which it will defend its world championship crown. It is a development of a car whose DNA goes back to the RB5 of 2009, but adapted to the new regulations banning exhaust blown diffusers and stiplulating a low nose.

Like many of its rival teams, Red Bull’s designers have gone for a step down to the low nose, keeping the main chassis level high, to improve airflow to the vanes, around the sidepods and to the floor or the car. Red Bull were the team that led the way in this line of aerodynamic thinking and most other teams have followed, but not McLaren, the odd ones out.

There is a school of thought that McLaren did not need to do the stepped nose because they anticipated the 2012 rules in their 2011 design and thus have an already well sorted concept. But more of that another time.

Last season was a runaway success for Sebastian Vettel in particular and this had a lot to do with Red Bull perfecting the exhaust blown diffuser (EBD), around which the car was designed and running the car with rake so the rear of the car was raised off the ground to maximise the effect of the diffuser.

This year the playing field has been levelled, with EBD’s banned and the designers forced to lower the rear of the car to harvest what downforce they can from the diffuser.

But engineers in the pit lane say that the diffuser is still an area of great interest and that there are some innovative ideas coming on stream around diffusers for 2012.

The tone of the messaging from the Red Bull team today was that its big advantage has gone with the banning of the EBD, the field will be closed up by the rule changes and that the RB8 is now essentially a four year old design.

You can choose to believe that or not, but as the team to beat at the end of last season, there is no reason to suspect that the designers have missed any and every opportunity to claw back the downforce lost in the changes and to stay ahead of the opposition.

But we are dealing with diminishing returns; this season and next are the final years of this era of Formula 1; from 2014 onwards the cars and their powertrains will change massively. So over the next two seasons we should see the cars close up more and more as the avenues for exploiting new ideas dwindle.

Vettel, for example, said, “It would be wrong to go into this season and expect 2011 to happen again, as in getting into the lead early and having a very big gap to other competitors in the Championship.

“So I think it will be very, very tight this year and anything else would be a surprise to be honest. Looking at the cars, you know there’s not much room we have left to play (with) for designers and to find something extra. You know, the last two years we have had two big things taken away, the double diffusers, plus, for this year, the system around the blown exhaust. So we are missing that and therefore I think it’s difficult to really create a difference.”

One talking point around the RB8 is the duct which is set into the step change on the nose of the car. It could be a red herring, as this launch pic doesn’t look very real. Many feel the launch version of the McLaren was a red herring, but if it’s genuine this inlet duct is clearly going to serve a purpose, which is likely to be aerodynamic.

With McLaren’s F Duct rear wing idea, a much smaller air intake on the monocoque fed a channel which led to an outlet the rear wing, which helped to shed drag. In today’s rules the DRS Wing has the same effect now, so there’s no reason to try that on the rear wing. It’s possible it could be working on the front wing, something Mercedes explored last season.

However one key area where downforce has been lost is the diffuser and the rear end – one wonders whether this inlet duct, which will harvest a lot of air given it’s size, is channeling additional airflow to the rear, possibly to work with the diffuser in some way.

It could be to cool the KERS, which was a major headache for the team last season. But the father of the all conquering generation of Red Bull cars is Adrian Newey and he’s famous for not having too many openings for cooling as they cut downforce, especially not one as large as this. Everyone expects something cunning from him, but he downplayed what he’d been able to do with this design. He said today,

“RB7 was designed around the exhaust, this year knowing that the exhaust position from last year would be taken away, we’ve had to go back and look at how we developed the car through the last one and two years.. and try.. to re-evaluate.

“Probably one of the key things there is the rear ride height. The exhaust allowed us to run a high rear ride height, it’s much more difficult without that to sustain a high rear height so we have to go back down and have to redevelop the car around that lower ride height.”

The cars run for the first time tomorrow. Jerez won’t teach us much, but the two tests at Barcelona will and a fairly accurate picture of underlying pace should be possible to establish by the end of the Barcelona tests.

Let’s hope Vettel is correct and the field has closed right up for 2012.

You can follow all the action from Jerez and the other tests in real time with tweets from teams, drivers and journalists at the circuit at http://twitter.jamesallenonf1.com

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Hi James. Great post, thank you!

About Red Bull air intake, looking carefully to this print screen from the video, I think there's no hole in this duct.


Or maybe they´re leaving some slot to work in the concept.


The slot is part of the front wing, so one should be able to see what they are doing with it when they take off the front wing; won't be long before it's figured out!


Mike Gascoyne think that this tiny hole have to do with cooling.


great shot becken...but it is not clear from that photo either...


OK guys - study the picture above veeeerrrry carefully. What do you notice? The eagle-eyed will notice that, just in front of the "L" on the far right lower corner of the TOTAL decal, the apparently flat surface rolls down. What does this mean? It means that the air entering the front slot is actually channeled up out of the bodywork in front of the TOTAL decal. The net result is smoother airflow from the "stepped" nose and a little wing device that forms the to edge of the air channel. Very clever.

A device that could be tuned to vary the way the air flows up over the step. Further, if the wing device is flexible it could change the air flow according to the speed of the car. It's not officially a wing but could be a moveable aerodynamic device.


Didn't wonderboy melt his brakes a few times last year? Could this air somehow be redirected through one of the struts to the brakes?


I agree with Kristian (I couldn't reply to his comment). My guess is that the purpose is to take the air that would otherwise hit the "step" and kick up into the "clean" air that's due to pass over the sidepods and driver area and cause it to instead exit further back in a controlled way (and probably put to some purpose on an aero surface as it exits).


It's either a red herring or some sort of gurney flap for front nose steps to reduce drag and maintain airflow around the side pods rather than unpredictable vortices around the driver. all guesses, but sticking with the fish.


That could be a blanking plate in there. Have to see it when the car is running


That was my observation too. Normally that area of the car is tightly packed with brake fluid looking like containers so it's hard to imagine what the slot would feed to. But for some who doesn’t like holes like Newey there must be a reason why that kink is there. Time will tell...


That's right.

It doesn't seem like there's a hole, but even if there is, the amount of air you could put in is very little. Yes, I know they need to cool their self-developed KERS, but still ...

My next guess would be diverting the air outside the driver and above his helmet, or at least that 's what the shapes are suggesting.

Still, I haven't seen a proper shots of the car, which is, no doubt, a spec/demo one.

The launch was also really bad.


Great picture, but that to me looks like a thinning air slot which works into the top of the chassis to maybe split either side of the driver? Like you hypothesise though, there's no way they'd have a concave section like that if not for an inlet of some description. Otherwise thats just acting like a very small air brake on the nose of the car!


Ok so it looks like Mclaren may have got it all very very wrong, Don't suppose Key is on his way to mclaren by any chance is he lol. Reckon the Redbull is the most ugly so far!


McLaren have worked for some time with a lower chassis that redbull, mercedes etc.

their aero under the nose is a completely different approach, and the lower chassis means they are able to work without the stepped nose (which is designed I believe to counter having to rebuild a complete new "lower" chassis. Charlie Whiting commented on the reasons the teams had gone for the stepped nose.

It will be interesting to see, but redbulls slot appears to be the most logical in terms of directing that ramp of airflow off the ski jump you see in others noses.

I very much doubt Newey has dropped any clangers, but now is when the bull stops (of the BS variety) and when the running starts.


It'll be interesting to see if they really do have something up their sleeve, but as more cars get launched I am increasingly reminded of Eddie Irvine's comments on the 1996 Ferrari: "When I first saw the car I thought 'that car looks worryingly different to everyone else's!' It turned out they were right and we were wrong!"

That said, being reminded of it doesn't mean it will accurately predict the success of McLaren's aesthetically & aerodynamically different approach, of couse!


Having seen the picture of Kimi shaking down the Lotus at Jerez today .. thats going to take some beating, didn't look to bad in the studio .... McLaren have just gone a differnet route, they have already admitted that the exhaust outlets on their car at launch were fake .. so waid and see what it really looks like


Why are you all thinking McLaren got it wrong?

They quite often used low nose, even on last year's car. They simply didn't need to make this "step".

And from any point of view - such step - even curvy and flowing will generate more drag than streamlined design of McLaren.

I might be worng, but we'll see it tomorrow and more clearly in Barcelona.


But there's no reason at all for any of they teams to drop the nose by the step drop it could have been done by a simple method of progressive angle. There must be something in it.


yeah so i understand now, Anyway how bizarre if it turns out to be an advantage over the Mclaren's!


But that would require the cockpit area to be lowered as well or the start of the nose will be to high.


How have McLaren got it wrong?


Pretty simple. They haven't!!


Just in contrast to the rest of the cars, even though Mcaren apparently dont need the stepped nose due to there lower tub chassis profile i wonder if the rest of the teams have discovered something in the nose step as it is and where it is as such.


Just because McLaren are different, doesn't mean they are wrong. Couldn't it be because they can win because the are different?


Haven't you seen the Sauber???? 🙂


Let the tests begin. It would be nice if the first 3-4 teams had cars that matched up almost evenly and its the drivers skills that decided the championship


Which never happened in the history of F1.


Vettel lost 75+ points to car failures in 2010, without these problems he runs away with the title.


Actually in 2010 the RB was miles ahead. It was just that their errors and Hamilton and Alonso's skill kept it going



2000 if you want an underdog winning. Ferrari was clearly the second best car, but Schumi prevailed despite fighting a double world champion on a roll.


3-4 cars matched?



When a team has a confident message, it can mean they are worried. If Red Bull are downplaying their car, that makes me wonder if they have something big up their sleeve and they are actually very confident. Unless of course they are double-bluffing...

It's not my favourite looking bump out of the platypus noses though.


you can play second guesses all day.

Im wondering why they showed it at all. They could of easily used a different nose with a blank step (to look like the Ferrari) for the unveil, and then changed to this nose when testing began or when they were ready to show it. If its a game changer, why show it early?


Unless they're doing a double bluff... or tripple bluff... how about we wait till start of the season and stop listening to PR soundbites?


You are right Jonathan, because Red Bull just saying things which shows their cars will not perform well.


Underwhelming launch, no car just an airbrushed picture.


Which would make you wonder if this is the actual lines of the car especially given the dodgy slot on the bridge of the nose! Could in reality end up looking more like the Mclaren in the flesh!


Certainly the ugliest of the new launches so far. If Red Bull are not bluffing and the others are likely to be closer this year then they had better hope they've got their KERS sorted this time round. A lot of Vettel's strategies last year were based on being fast enough to get out of KERS range from the following cars. That looks like not being an option this year.

I don't think McLaren have necessarily got it wrong, just a different design philosophy which worked well enough at times last year.

Of the launches so far I think Ferrari have made the most progress but then they needed to. It will be interesting to see what Mercedes have come up with. They really need to deliver this year after the last couple of mildly disappointing seasons. I have a feeling missing the first test could be due to them having a surprise that they want to keep secret from the other teams as long as possible. At least I hope so!


Yeah would be great to see the Mercedes car being in a good place for De Rista taking his seat next season 🙂


Di Resta vs Hulkenburg will be an intersting one. As far as Mercedes goes, Nico seems to be a touch more German than Paul...

Paul made fewer errors than Nico in their respective first seasons, but I suspect the other team managers will look at pace, especially for 2013. A steady hand might be more useful for 2014. To me the second half of 2011 wasn't a great qualifying effort from Paul.

2012 and 2013 could be difficult years for Jenson too. His slight deficit in qualifying could put him several cars behind Lewis, Sebastian and Fernando, on average across the season. He is not known for being especially bold in the first few corners either. Still if this year is anything to go by, a lot of critics will note his excellent races, once he got through the first lap in a compromised position, without marking down his qualifying or starts.


I think in hind sight now looking at the situation with paul at the end of last season (which i noticed too) was Sutil's desperate attempts to keep his F1 career up and running knowing at the time what we all know now and the depth of the situation.

Would not rule him out swooping into Hamilton's seat either, Hamilton has got a lot to do this season and without conflict alongside having little negative to say!

Note Kimi and Paul have both been the stand out drivers so far in testing but obv hard to get an exact read from. Possitive anyway 🙂


Meant out of DRS range of course!


Look very aggressive, the best looking car with the Lotus.

Dont know why people rave about the boring, plain looking McLaren.


"the boring, plain looking McLaren"

Wow, boring?

My friend, the MP4-27 was the better looking so far.


A fast car is a beautiful car.

Until these cars start going round the track then it is impossible to say which is going to be best.

I remember back in 2009 when everyone was saying how beautiful and quick looking the Mclaren looked. And we all remember how that turned out!

Bring on Melbourne!!!


I bet before Australia... McLaren will have a slanted nose... any takers???


I think it's a real possibility, just as they copied the Red Bull exhaust system last year pre-Australia as their own design didn't work.

Ferrari are the team to watch IMO, take away the blown diffusers and so on and they had the fastest car last year (as proven at Silverstone). So maybe the red team will be back to the fore this season, I hope so, Alonso is a great driver.


Agree with your first paragraph, but how wrong are you about the second.

The only reason Ferrari won that race was because there was no need to use the harder compound, and the lack of clarity with the EBD.


Not me. They'd have to start from scratch from what I understand.


Doubt that extremely much. As Iceman has pointed out, McLaren have been lowering their nose for that last couple of seasons, probably just with this season in mind...they will be the team to watch.


Would not be betting on that!


Because its not ugly? 🙂


Not ugly but indeed boring.


so with the C31 joining the party we now have 3 ferrari noses on the grid, my limited knowledge of aerodynamics is struggling to understand how this is good from a laminar flow standpoint, could it be, a.) deflecting air up and over drivers head and other non aerodynamic elements of cockpit? b.) a real slot that makes the best of a bad situation to feed the floor or cooling (if you have to have the step and least make it do something right?)

Either way, even if its as fast as the RB7, I will struggle to call it beautiful


you mean a Caterham nose....

I think the Renault and the red bull look the best, The Ferrari nose looks like they borrowed it from Sauber just for the presentation...

They're Hiding something!


Possibly the airflow is so disturbed at that point that the step really doesn't matter that much; maybe the raised chassis floor more than makes up for any aero penalty.


Launch dates for F1 cars – it's all marketing and very little else. You may as well reveal a three wheeler from under the white sheets!


Yeah i dont think this is going to look too much like the car that appears on 1st race day especially the nose. Somethings up!


I think it looks great, (for a Maclaren fan that's saying something) unlike the Ferrari and Sauber's Lego style design this one still looks fast.

The Ferrari nose looks like a mock-up, It can't be the real nose, Maybe we'll see a whole in the step like the Red bull on the first test...


I'd agree. In essence, I think great cars look nice because of great liveries as much as design.

The redbull colour scheme is excellent. as is the mclaren colour scheme.

Sauber? Did you run out of paint?


Could this duct in fact just be a wing, right above the suspension and therefore perfectly placed to take advantage of the nose's step on the airflow?


I don't think so. Budding aerodynamicists help me out here, but to act like a wing (create lift) you need to not only split the airflow, creating a pressure differential between the two layers, you also need to re-attach those layers together again after the wing. I don't see how or where it would be re-attached in this case.


Could be - would regs allow?


I guess we can call it official. This will be the ugliest field of F1 cars in history. We knew it was coming, but I'm still in shock. I thought the larger front wings were ugly when they came in. Here's hoping that my brain will adjust and accept the ascetics of these cars too.


For me the 08 cars were ridiculous with all of the winglets.


I think that's the thing. My reaction to these cars hasn't been nearly as bad as when the large front wings and small rear wings came in for 2009 (that despite agreeing the 2008 cars had gone way OTT with all those aero bits hanging off them). But over time a) I got used to them and b) as cars developed and wings & sidepods were more sculpted I even thought they looked quite nice! And besides - the 'step noses' should only be here until 2014 apparently so it sounds short-term.


You'll need to be ascetic to accept the aesthetic...


That or type slower! 🙂


Red Bull have tried to harvest as much as they could from 2011. The air intake looks interesting, perhaps some innovative ground effect device?

I however get the sneaky feeling that McLaren are going to run away with it this year.


Given McLaren lost out hugely in Silverstone trim, and Ferrari gained most doesn't that suggest that as a starting point for this years cars McLaren were third out of the top three teams on aero development? We shall see in Australia!


Judging from the launches so far, the RB8 is an improved RB5 and the Mp4-27 an improved MP4-26. 🙂

Newey admitted that the RB6 & 7 where designed around the blown diffuser hence their dominance. His open frustration in the press suggests he is not happy at all.... the winds of change starting to blow already?...


It think it's on the wrong side of the car to be a ground effect device


Be some going, since the last time they ran away with it would be 1989...

They should have run away with it in 1998 such was their dominance, but Michael Shumacher kept them honest all year.


I sincerely hope you're right!


i have a sneaky feeling that you are a big McLaren fan. 🙂


So, RBR also go with the step nose! If the championship were based on looks, I think it'd still be Lotus' to lose...

I don't think many of us are hoping the RB maintains it's performance gap; fingers crossed McLaren really have found something special with the low nose.


It's interesting McLaren has gone a different route with air flow, certainly all the other cars are very similar, but just maybe McLaren have anticipated this, had longer to think about it, and come up with an alternative design. I suspect they are channelling air in from under the sidepods which has allowed the smoother styling and lower nose.


Now this looks like a fast car. I am struggling to understand how that concave design is going to work unless it is an openeing to let air in and direct it elsewhere.


Possibilities it to be for more than for aero or component cooling?, Maybe cockpit cooling seeing it deemed that the step need be added there anyway?


My thought's pretty much confirmed by Newey this afternoon on the bbc news feed 🙂 not too sure i believe him though!


Hi James,

Do you really think McLaren have pulled a fast one? It's very worrying when you're the only one who's going the other way. Either you've got it very right or you've got it very wrong. After watching 15 seasons of F1 and missing only 2 races I'm finally going to be watching my first F1 race live in Melbourne. Hopefully one of the McLarens will take the chequered flag. Would really look forward to an article on the design philosophy of the McLaren.


I could be wrong, but I don't think McLaren has ever made a car with a high nose, so I wouldn't really worry that they are doing something wrong.


If you look at Mclaren's car from last year, it too had a low chassis and nose so would have pretty much been compliant with the 2012 rules too. They haven't dropped the chassis to meet this years regs or headed in the wrong direction, they've just continued doing what they did last year, its the regs that have inadvertently moved to suit Mclaren because they've compromised the teams who last year ran high chassis and noses. This means those teams would either have had to ditch their design philosophy completely and follow Mclaren's lead of low nose/chassis, or retain their basic hi chassis design but drop the nose, which is what everyone has done so far. This loses some airflow to the underside of their designs compared to last year whereas Mclaren have continued pretty much uncompromised with an evolution of the nose that worked pretty well for them last year, which is why some think they might gain this year more than most.


But it's no different from last year. McLaren were the odd one out then too with their lower nose, and did pretty well. It's just more obvious now because the rules require high noses to have a step this year.


dont forget the U shaped sidepods!


I have a feeling that Red Bull will be feeding the air from that slot back down through the nosecone into the struts and blowing the front wing, rather like Mercedes tried last year.



There is a lot of resistance in turning airflow 180 degrees.


This year, Red Bull will go in flames.


I think you're confusing it with last year's Renault Lotus.


If that happens to Red Bull this year, then what a wonderful sight it will be, especially to vettel.


Im a Genius! I have worked out what the step up is on the nose of the cockpit is actually for, Its to deflect the air pressure up and over the drivers helmet as this was deemed more aero efficient than increasing the size of the mirrors as so the drivers can lean forward and check there mirrors as to where where the trailing field/lapping front runners are before switching sides of the track or turning into corners to avoid the silly collisions of recent yrs. Problem solved! 🙂



Could it be that F1 aerodynamic design is following in the same direction jet aircraft design took with the Lockheed Stealth Fighter Jet?


The hard angles and the 'ugly' design.


Infact, its not for aero but for stealth. Someone should have told yout hat.


Also that plane is a 20 year old design now, would've been adopted many years ago if that was the aim. And as everyone else said it has those angles to deflect radar away from and not back at the radar station. That plane is also flown 90% by computers as otherwise it would be near unpilotable.


Come on. I know there is a fourth person out there who will take this F-117 comment way too seriously. You can do it!


Alexx, the stealth design is not the most efficient to a aerodynamical point ofview.


The design of the stealth fighter is angled to minimise radar deflections. It's in the Wikipedia article, under Design.


The 'hard angles' or flat surfaces on a stealth fighter are there to ensure the plane is not detectable by radar.


That design was used for stealth not for aerodynamic gain.


Well until F1 cars are fitted with radar guided missiles, I'm not entirely sure they need radar deflecting stealth designs 🙂

Although missiles would remove the need for DRS...


The hard angles and ugly design are not for aerodynamic reasons; they are to reduce the radar image of the plane.


Till date Mclaren is the most beautiful of the lot released, followed by Lotus. The rest look like washing machines.


If my washing machine looked like that I'd probably do a lot more washing and my wife would be very happy indeed.


I think Picasso nose would be the most appropriate term these weird nosed cars these season.

Just checked out the Lotus E20 Shakedown pics and the car looks horrendous and we are talking about the second best looking car of the lot, can only imagine how ugly would Ferrari and Redbull would look on track


pinocchio nose?


I was going to post the same thing .. that has to be the worse thing ever, I didn't think the Force india shake down at Silverstone looked anywhere near as bad


Looking forward on the McLaren article already!

So far Ferrari is the only team with a double pullrod system.. Hope they'll benefit from it.

I think this RB8 looks great, and i'm already getting used to the noses of modern F1 cars. It looks interesting, that makes it beautiful for me!

Greetings from the Netherlands


Well my mind goes that far this time.

Adrian Newey's comment must be correct:

”we have to go back down and have to redevelop the car around that lower ride height.”

Certainly he had found the best choice to develop the car and this choice was taken away from him. This leaves him with the second best option. The difference between the first and the second best option is generally in life big enough (although of course we cannot have any idea for this particular case).

This means probably that the car is not as good as the car was in 2011. But take for example the 2009 car that missed the championship. It was still winning at the end of the year because of its very good aerodynamics. This means that even without an ace at their sleeves Redbull can fight for wins.

But from 2009 Ferrari and Maclaren seem to have upped their game a bit. They were forced by the very strong performance of Red Bull. And for reasons that I will not analyse here to keep the post a bit shorter I think Ferrari in particular has done so. They also had the most room to improve in comparison to the other teams, by solving their tyre issues and by loosing less by the ban of the blown diffuser.

From middle to the end of last year it did seem to me like there was a pattern. Redbull was a couple of tenths in front for most of the races, but to some races Ferrari and Maclaren would catch up. Then Red Bull would bring new developments and have an advantage again and the cycle would go on. Now depending on how many steps Red Bull have done backwards and how many steps Ferrari has done frontwards the outcome might be either 2 or more teams very close at the front or Ferrari at the front.

Of course all this analysis is hypothetical and there are many unknown factors that could change its outcome and I do not consider here. Nevertheless it stands for my point of view of what is known to us so far.


What makes you think that not having the double diffuser will be a net gain for teams other than RBR? When Brawn introduced the double diffuser, who had (by far) the fastest single diffuser car? Answer: RBR


james any idea who's team's offer jaime turned down before knowing he was not retained by toro rosso.


Looks like an 'F-Duct Nose'. I am sure Vettel and Red Bull will be able to defend both their championships this year with the new RB8.

McLaren had plastic exhausts and Ferrari too didn't give away too much. Hopefully we will see something on Tuesday.

Curious about what Mercedes have up their sleeves.


I'm looking forward to seeing Mercedes too. I'm also really hoping that Williams have something interesting up their sleeves - I think they have no choice but to go aggressive, after the shocking 2011 campaign.


Hi James,

With all the focus on the rear end, it's important to point out that the rake employed by RBR was instrumental in getting their front wing so low to the ground. Also, with the increase in rigidity testing this year it's doubtful they will be able to achieve such a flexible front wing, so they will be struggling to regain their lost front downforce just as much as at the rear.



OMG!!! These Red Bull fellows are really secretive, we can't even get a clear pic out of them, you might think their car is made of gold or something.

Yes, Adrian Newey reminds me some much of Steve Jobs.

Now from what Newey says, he sounds like someone who's toys have been taking away & their is a hint of worry there, it seems the double diffuser & all those gases going on around was the reason, Vettel was too good last year especially in Q3 qualifying.

Anyway, it appears as though Mclaren are the odd ones out in not having the stepped nose & now am very impressed with that team in that they were able to anticipate the rule changes two seasons back & made the necessary steps & good on them for keeping it quiet.

Now what Vettel says is very true in that 2012 is going to be mighty close for even Alonso said this earlier that their will be a difference of a couple of tenths between the top teams.

Of course this spells trouble for Vettel & his Red Bull boys for if F1 is to get down & dirty, the overtaking novice / non brave heart / small kahunas that's our Wunderkid will always loose out for that kind of racing is for the big boys were the real racing beasts step up to the plate e.g. Schumi, Hammy Alonso (and Jenson to an extent).

Finally testing is knocking on our doors, so let the games begin, enough of the talk for it's time to burn some rubber.


Oi, this Vettel is really the strange type for these are the first words I read from him the entire off season infact we never know where he goes off to during his holidays.

Actually the last time I saw the chap was when he picked up his championship trophy in India, till then ---> Nothing!

I just hope he's not involved in some weird things like witchcraft, you understand.


He doesn't quite have the charisma, but you have to admit his innovative flare and "simple, but it works!" formulae are very very similar indeed.

While the gap will probably be cut down through the field, I don't think the Red Bull will suddenly not be on pole. Vettel is a very good qualifier, and don't forget that even with a tiny DDD in 2009 they were easily quicker than Brawn.

Also saying Vettel can't overtake is not exactly fair. You have to remember that with a car that is downforce-heavy and drag-heavy too, that makes it difficult for him to overtake. In the corners he is hampered more by the dirty air, and on the straights he has too much drag to pull off a pass.

Of course he's not involved in witchcraft - sometimes your weird superstitions really get me thinking that you're a bot trying to be obnoxious on purpose. But it just means that over the winter he was able to keep himself quiet and completely recharge his batteries, without having to deal with the pressures of media scrutiny


Not necessarily. Vettel would still be able to win out against those drivers, especially the one who looked like a bit of a novice last year, when he kept having incidents with the slower driver of a slower Ferrari.


I don't get why people think Vettel would lag behind the others so much in equal machinery. I think we can safely say that if he had equal machinery to, say; Alonso, the title would still probably go down to the wire, and would probably be won by a hair's breadth!




Am I the first person to say that I'm getting used to these noses, and look quite cool in an edgy way. I actually do like the new ferrari, its sharp, although i would not call it pretty. i hope its fast!


I'm with you for the most part. However I hope that Ferrari, and Sauber have something yet to come with the step on their cars. Those two seem to be more abrupt, and with little to no sculpting in the middle.

Of the others the only really awkward one is the Caterham, but that is more to do with the livery. The way the sponsors logos break up the lines on the nose make it look longer, and gives the illusion of having louvres.


I'm not quite there yet....!


James, although an F-Duct would now serve a similar purpose to the DRS wing, DRS can only stall within certain constraints in the race, whereas an F-Duct could still stall the rear wing at any point on the track. It would also be more progressive than the DRS wing in terms of stalling the airflow, so would not give the sudden loss of downforce that deploying DRS does. Perhaps it could still have some use in races, even if it doesn't do much for one-lap performance?


FDucts where banned in the rulebook...


I believe ACTIVE F-ducts were banned...


It was a pathetic launch. Was it really necessary to do online? They could have simply done it at Jerez. I waited days for this ... what a disappointment.


and you'll most probably forget today's disappointment and jump to joy when three teams battle hard at the first race in a month's time. So why the disappointment? =)


The new duct is simply an air vent, positioned to cool Mark's gonads. As everyone knows, Marks nads are somewhat bigger than the rest of the competition and require special cooling.

All jokes aside, not a bad looking car. Not boring like the McLaren, rather more interesting like the Ferrari. Paint the McLaren in primer and you wouldn't look twice at it. Adrian is again messing with the competitions heads, this time with the new slot. My guess is we should look elsewhere on the car for the real innovation, maybe in a few weeks time 😉



Best laugh of the day for me. Thanks for that.


Not bad for the #2 gonads! LOL


lol, so boring = beautiful and interesting = lego ugly in your world mate! 🙂


Looks are a matter of opinion!!!

It's getting very boring and very irritating now with everyone jumping on the 'car is ugly' bandwagon.


Bring on the 'Benz! We still have several weeks on that... I wonder if their strategy is to get an idea on what is out there before their launch


Maybe Ross has something clever up his sleeve again?


Its a fake, just a little plastic piece.

Newey is having a laugh at our expense.


Unlikely - he is the most serious man on the planet when it comes to engineering design.


It looks as if the duct is at the very end of where the nose attaches to the chassis, if that's the case perhaps we'll get a better idea of what's behind it if they have to change a wing during a race.

could it be some sort of device to effect the air flow to the floor?


I'm surprised nobody here is disappointed with this car.

I see very little new except for the nose which is not going to be revolutionary, may give them 2 tenths advantage at most, if we assume it gives any at all.

Newey has already spoken about having to lower the rear of the car due to no more EBD, this means no more wing scraping that they used to have.

To me it looks like Newey is out of ideas and Red Bull are going for the safe option of sticking with their fast car from last two years.

Problem is that Red Bull do not have the lemon-squeezing catch-up abilities of McLaren and Ferrari. I think Red Bull will finish third this season.


I'm willing to be proved COMPLETELY wrong but I fully agree with you.

The look of all winning cars in the past has been a smooth, holistic feel of sense and simplicity. The RB7 was all powerful, and sticky to the track, all because of EBD, and the rake (therefore front wing also) of the car. This car is too angular and 'bitty'. But it may be a fake pic.


Sounds more like you are expressing your wishes more than anything else. Especially since we know f... all about how any of these cars will run. But dismissing RB after the last two years is bold indeed. Good luck sir.


Are you saying they should fix what is not broken?

They won the championships in the last 2 seasons with this concept.

Ferrari and McLaren had to squeeze the lemon for a reason.


off topic

Does anyone think that the “new look” BBC has got at least one thing right with Gary Anderson?

He comes across as a real technical analyst (showing Ted Kravitz up as just a technical pitlane gossip). Early days I know but so far I’m beginning to look forward to his comments and analysis.


As a retired car designer for Jordan and Stewart formula 1 teams, there's a reason why he appears to know what he's talking about. He does 🙂

Good to see him keeping an interest in F1. If I remember correctly, one of his retirement presents to himself was a yacht called 'Sanity at last'.


I agree, although I’d defend old Ted - I enjoyed his post-race and contributions over the three days.

I think GA is the one bright spot on the BBC horizon. One thing though: much as his contribution at the McLaren launch was informative, a biro and a bit of paper just isn’t going to cut it. I hope there's enough money left in the BBC coffers to upgrade him to a ‘magic marker’ so we can actually see easily what he’s drawing next time.


As always James great insight and info!

Lets all hope it is much closer and not have a runaway winner !!!


The new Toro Rosso looks quick and aggressive. Everything's pared down and made to go fast. I like it much more than the Red Bull.


Hello james,

I know its off-topic but is Jock Clear still schumacher's performance engineer? I know when Jock joined in august michael's performance where getting better. Reason i ask this is because i read somewhere it was only for the remaining part of last season. But why stop a good collabaration?


Lat I heard he'd been asked to continue but I will check with Mercedes


Thanks james.


According to this pictuer seems that the McLaren nose is well within the limits.


SarbsF1's blog has been a pleasure to read.

Red Bull are playing their cards close to chest as they should, as all big team do. Even with the CGI the RB car will be quick / fast / at the top.


The cars that actually should be called for 2012:

1. Lotus - Black Ice

2. Redbull - FREE 30% Extra

3. Ferrari - The Red Picasso

4. Mclaren - The Vintage Granny

5. Force India, Sauber, Toro Rosso, Caterham - Flip top Cigarette Boxes.

Welcome to 2012 Season, where aesthetic beauty is the thing of the past.



The new feature on the RB-8 may finally be what I consider a feature yet to be found, but sadly lacking on road cars, a crotch cooler.

Stop laughing. It's actually quite practical, if a bit male oriented. Imagine the performance advantage gained if Sebastian and Mark are so much more comfortable than the rest...That Newey thinks of everything.


This is what I love about F1, all the innovations and conspiracies before a season and testing begins, its like our own soap.


In all honesty, I thought they just might have rolled out their 2009 car with some very minor mods and claimed quite vigorously "No, it's not... it's the 2012 car" with sheepish expressions on their faces. That nose makes me think it could be dual purpose - drawing some air in to be directed God/Newey knows where, and maybe even stall air at that part of the front, almost gurney flap-like - is that possible? Would it provide enough effect over such a small area?

Also, the Sauber is my 'Rolling Brick' award winner so far... so dull...


Blame the ugly noses on Mark Webber LOL In Valencia 2010 he ran into the rear wheel Heiki and was launched, THATs why the rulemakers came up with the low nose...


even with a lower nose you'd still be pushed upwards if you hit a rear wheel from behind. these noses are more about driver protection in a t-boning incident.


Hi James,

Can you please do an article on...??

'There is a school of thought that McLaren did not need to do the stepped nose because they anticipated the 2012 rules in their 2011 design and thus have an already well sorted concept. But more of that another time'


I would wait until Malaysia to do such an article James. After Red Bull wipe the floor with their opposition in Australia, McLaren will undoubtedly have a steeped nose for Malaysia 😉

Go the Bulls!


Don't know about you, but I'm starting to like how this cars look like. Think about it!


I'm glad RB manage to make the step nose look good just like Lotus has. But other teams like ToroRosso, Caterham and FERRARI!! had made their cars look so ugly.

Mclaren might be working on a step nose since everyone are using the step-nose.


What about the flexing wing? No one seemed to figure that out and Ferrari's version flapped wildly. Vettel hasn't really had all his toys taken away.


On that, how did Ferrari get away with a wing that flexed so wildly? Surely it was outside the acceptable criteria for flexing.


Dare I say it but it looks if Red Bull has gone conservative? Then again with Newey all his gadgets are under the hood. I think Red Bull will still have the momentum but not by much. I think if we look back at Silverstone last year, when blown diffusers were disabled it really brought the field closer. The only team I want to see launch their car is Mercedes. Still odd to me that Mclaren has gone a different root. Have they found something that the other haven't? We'll have to wait and see... Then James will you do A preview of the season with all the teams and drivers?




To be fair... Red Bull's only non-conservative move in the last 4 years has been the introduction of the pull rod, and the exhaust positioning.


Yet they continue to smoke the opposition....


Then we agree.


My point was that a conservative car does not mean a slow car


Now now it'd be funny if what Red Bull did with showing this nostril is only to serve the purpose of deflecting other teams' resources in copying, when in fact it does nothing and by first race RBR revert back to a more ordinary nose, and other teams would have wasted a lot of $ and time in figuring out what the heck that nose was doing on the car.


As long as 2012 produce close racing I'll be happy. My guess is this year will be like 2010. Ugly cars will be forgiven.


All I will say that it is very dissapointing for the world champion team this is how they release their new car. I'll give it to Mclaren they do the launches well.

P.S It will be fast though.


Here's an idea James,

Why dont the teams just forget lunching there fake cars and do the proper lunch of the real car on the first day of testing?


I'm VERY interested in that nose design. Some say it's a hole/vent/slot, but I wonder if it could be an application of clever aero... like in hollow-point ammunition, causing a local stagnation point over the nose.


Possible - but I couldn't see what advantage that would give you in stalling the air at that point on the bodywork. Wouldn't that cause a high pressure point just behind it, right where the smooth lines of the car disintegrate into the cockpit and engine cowel area. That's an area they are constantly trying to smooth the air flow around.

My money is more towards a tunable method of diverting air. Rather than with the the likes of the Ferrari nose causing a pressure wave to divert air flow over the driver's head, the Newey design could actually be tunable so that you smooth out the air flow and can tune how much drag and down-force you generate depending on whether you are at Monza or Monaco.


If you looked at the aero for hollow-point ammo for example; because you have the air all going into just a groove; you'd get a stagnation of air there and you would get a "bubble" of high pressure air that sort of stagnates there. This bubble would have a far smoother shape than the nose bump.

Take a look here: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v626/nsmikle/rbn.png the red will be the stagnation point; and so the air doesn't really reach there because the stagnant air is pushing it out. The air instead takes the path of the yellow color.


I know the cars so far have been for the most part ugly; but everyone said the same of the 2009 front and rear wings. It'll grow on you in time. I don't mean to say everyone will find them to be works of art; but we will adjust and get used to them...


I don't think this years cars are that ugly. In 2009 everyone thought the narrow rear wing and wider front wings were ugly. Now they're considered normal, as will the stepped noses once the racing starts



If all we talk about at the 'launches' is whether certain things are red herrings or not, what's the point of the whole exercise? Surely launches mean nothing - they're just PR opportunities. It'd make more sense if the rules said that features shown on a car at the 'launch' have to be on the real car (for the first race weekend, at least)...


Agreed. Ferrari and McLaren need to be seen to put on a show due to self esteem and sponsors etc. The rest are simply unveiling the car so they can start testing


For some reason, I'm loving the look of this car. The nose seems to actually look like part of the design, not just an afterthought as it is with most of the others.

As a Ferrari fan I'm massively worried about that slot. It seems that the rest of the teams have seen the new regulations as a bit of a chore & something they just have to get around, but Newey looks to have found a purpose for it. Who would be surprised if they all turn up in Melbourne and he has designed the must-have gadget of 2012?


The red Bull hook nose looks so much more intricate than anyone else's. It looks like they said- ok so we have to have this... How do we make this an advantage and rather than a problem to overcome? Other teams such as ferrari seem to have a very basic, dismissive use of the bump.

Sikhumbuzo Thomo

Hi James

My feeling is that it serves a veriety of purposes.

1. It clears and optimises the airflow from the tip/spoon of the nose to the air main intake.

2. Newey gives the game away slightly in his input on the EBD, because while some air is forced into the duct it feeds very hot battries for cooling purposes.

3. Lastly, then the hot air is channelled towards the rear either to improve the rear wind and/or DRS and/or feed into (or redirect)internal air flow for further earo purposes to the lower rear!

4. It can also happen that it is channel throught the exhaust system in a particular direction to influence the manner the exhaust gases exit the peri pipes!


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