Barcelona Day 3: Red Bull’s piece of theatre
Red Bull Racing
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Mar 2012   |  9:27 am GMT  |  170 comments

The penultimate day of testing before the start of the new F1 season saw a dramatic piece of theatre from Red Bull Racing, who had such a significant upgrade package they needed to ship out a new car to Spain. The real Red Bull RB8 stood up in the pitlane and now the opposition know what they are up against. And by leaving it so late, Red Bull have not given the opposition much time to study their design and copy it.

Under FOTA single car testing rules, this required permission from other teams, which was granted and the car duly ran with Mark Webber at the wheel. Sebastian Vettel will take over for the final day’s testing on Sunday.

The “Version B” of the RB8 features new front and rear wings, new rear end aerodynamics, new diffuser and a new exhaust layout among the visible changes, but there are sure to be others under the skin. Red Bull has been working hard in the wind tunnel and gave their rivals the slip by changing not just the position of the exhausts and their function, but the philosophy behind it. It’s quite a statement of Red Bull’s design and production capabilities. One could almost say that they were ‘showing off’.

FIA rules state that a team has to homologate a chassis at the start of the year, so this isn’t a “new car” in that sense, but it was sufficiently revised that it was considered better to build it up in the factory in Milton Keynes, rather than have the mechanics in Spain work all night to build it up.

“The thing that everyone’s obviously asking about is the changes we made to the car but I have to say the car was not massively different to the one I drove on Thursday,” said Mark Webber coyly. “We went through our normal programme, nothing drastic happened, and we just keep working away.”

Apart from the front and rear wings the most obvious change to the Red Bull is the rear end aero and the exhausts, which used to exit “internally” low down and close to the bottom element of the rear wing, now exit “externally”, further forward and blowing across a complex pattern of channels down to the diffuser.

This is the kind of radical solution that Ferrari had tried from the outset but failed to get working and has now rowed back from, to try to build up to it over time.

Red Bull isn’t the only team with upgrades for the final two days. Their closest challengers, McLaren, brought out the Melbourne specification package on Saturday, a new nose and front wing among the changes, giving Jenson Button the step up he had been looking for, “There were some areas where we were lacking in the car, but we knew it would become better when we put the updates on,” he said.

The final day might show the outright pace of both cars, but given how cagey everyone has been this winter, it’s unlikely.

Sergio Perez set the fastest time, but the front running cars were carrying more fuel. What is noticeable is that most cars set times in the 1m 22s range. Although tyres and fuel loads were different, it nevertheless shows that the midfield is pretty closely matched.

Ferrari meanwhile took the unusual step of not allowing the drivers to speak to the media, something which has incensed the Italian and Spanish media in particular. This has sparked talk of the team being in ‘crisis’, with a car which devours its tyres, has no grip on corner exits and Fernando Alonso’s patience running out. It’s a situation which needs to be very carefully managed with a 20 race season lasting 10 months in prospect.

1. Perez Sauber 1m22.094s 114 Laps
2. Button McLaren 1m22.103s +0.009 44 Laps
3. Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m22.155s +0.061 131 Laps
4. Massa Ferrari 1m22.413s +0.319 122 Laps
5. Di Resta Force India 1m22.446s +0.352 108 Laps
6. Senna Williams 1m22.480s +0.386 111 Laps
7. Kovalainen Caterham 1m22.630s +0.536 64 Laps
8. Webber Red Bull 1m22.662s +0.568 70 Laps
9. Rosberg Mercedes 1m22.932s +0.838 129 Laps
10. Raikkonen Lotus 1m25.379s +3.285 43 Laps

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@ Glennb:

I like you goferet, you always make me

smile. Don’t ever change.


Aww I thank you!


My own view regarding Red Bull is that no team would introduce such a draconian update and not run it for long in testing. It strikes of a move in response to a lack of pace / rear downforce.

If they wanted to hide its pace they could have turned down the engine, carried more fuel etc.

Seems like the mass hysteria says its) showing off, I don’t buy that – the B car was unreliable and had glitches. Doesn’t look like showing off to me.

Adrian Newey Jnr

James – could you shed some light as to why the other teams would grant RB the opportunity to release a “new” chassis package when it isn’t really in their interest? . Surely this means that the changes couldn’t have been that big? Otherwise they could have blocked it(eg think back to the F-duct introduction) and preserved their own competitiveness.


‘Under FOTA single car testing rules, this required permission from other teams, which was granted and the car duly ran with Mark Webber at the wheel’

Just out of interest, why did the other teams freely grant permission like this? Is it just professional courtesy? Seems to me an ideal to put a spanner in the RBR works.


Because they might want to do the same in the future


plus Red Bull are no longer a member of FOTA so they technically don’t need permission from anybody. I guess they were just asking to keep the peace.


simple logic always brings smile on my face


James, I must admit I’ve been remiss in following much of the practice data. Do you have any plans to write a season prospectus or offseason wrapup? I would thoroughly enjoy an article detailing where you feel each team and driver is at and the challenges they will face in the upcoming season.

Always love your articles and commentary!


Don’t you just love Red Bullwith the way teh play with the opposition. Mark is not bad either. He is teh perfect team player, Let us hope the team [alys with him this year.


I would love to see some proof of this please, otherwise the only way Red Bull would play with the other teams if they knew they were unbeatable which we all know they are not. What is it with this Red Bull worship I see?


Where has ferrari lost the plot…in fernando they have a master class driver … felipe is good driver …and having build championship winning cars .how did they lost the plot …is it just down to Newey then how are McLaren atleast able to give a spirited fight …

Where is Ferrari missing out in ?

Jeremy (cape town) South Africa

Let’s just wait for qualify in Australia everybody!!!


people talk more about something when they are not sure about it.

let them talk…otherwise we get bored in winter


Aah its a beautiful warm sunny SUMMER in Australia 😉


Very interesting that since the last update Red Bull have suffered technical problems. Not the ideal to time to be getting these, with no running now until Melbourne

Re: Ferrari, I think its clear that they are struggling and panicking at the time. The pressure will surely mount if the test performance bears out during the 4 fly aways. Maybe Maranello will have to accept a slip back to the bad days of the eighties and rebuild. Clearly, things don;t look good there at all. Alonso will doubtless struggle to keep quiet if all this ends up being their true level

McClaren must feel very confident. With probably their strongest pre season since 2008 coupled with their development capacity and 2 leading drivers, they know they don’t need to panic. In fact as long as they are in touching distance in quail and race pace with Red Bull (even if they are behind) during the fly aways will still be a confident giving position.

The enigma’s (on whether they are closer to RB/McC or Ferrari) are Mercedes and Lotus. The Mercedes looks tidy and solid, which again is where you want to be pre season. The Lotus has been having a couple of glory style runs during all 3 tests and this is usually a sign that they are not as quick as the timesheet initially suggests.

Order right now looks like:






I would be tempted to put the Lotus ahead of the Ferrari if its single lap pace is strong and it doesnt chew its tyres (which I suspect the Ferrari of). Sure Kimi will love that!


Have Red Bull messed up a bit ?

Looking at Saturday and the problems they had, could it be they have tried to be a bit too clever ?

Everybody is so full of “Adrian Newey the unbeatable” these days but I seem to remember he did fail, and usually due to over-complication.


Ferrari are in trouble. Bring back Alesi and Berger.


Hi James.

I was looking at some photo’s of the Red Bull’s exhaust and noticed that it exits directly into a longish section of body work which nearly closes around it.

This is clearly to guide the exhaust gasses are they not at risk of breaking the new regulations?

Other teams most notably Mercedes have some thing similar but in those cases the exhaust is less than 50% enclosed unlike the Red Bull’s whose bodywork which appears to wrap around the exhaust.


If in the unlikely event that this “new” Red Bull is a flop would they be allowed to go and race the one that they have been testing up till now?


Sure; it’s ‘just’ a different Aero kit bolted the the same Chassis.


Why would the other teams agree to RB doing this?

At this stage I would rather disrupt their evil plans and rob them of the testing on the new design than see what it is.


Well, if the other teams say no. Red Bull are still allowed to turn up with it in Melbourne, but the other teams wouldn’t have seen it at *all* and had no time to react to it if needed.

Giving them 1 day of running it as a trade of for getting a look at it was probably seen as reasonable.


Why, oh why didn’t the regs say that the exhaust pipes should exit no further forward than the most rearwards point on the car? At least then we should do away with all this ‘blowing’ nonsense.

I just don’t get this. I thought it had been established 40 years ago, at the time of the Brabham fan car, that power from the engine should not be used directly to increase downforce.


“…incensed the Italian and Spanish media…”

Media ppl have *such a sense of entitlement! LMAO

“…talk of the team being in ‘crisis’…”blah blah blah

So yesterday it was ok, but today its not? DO these ppl just sit around evenings and spitefully make up “stuff” ??


I think it was 1998 that McLaren sandbagged , I have a funny feeling this is what they and red bull are doing by running very high fuel loads and only pushing in 1 or 2 sectors, the season will start and McLaren and Red Bull will race off and duke it out between em.



The truth is nobody knows who is fastest.

So we wait for the first say 3 races.



James one question in regards to Merc. They are quiet about their perormance, drivers are “happy” one complaint about tyre degradation, Brawn seems to be optimistic in saying they need to fight for podiums, so I’m a bit confused is mercedes hiding something or they just drumming into empty space here. It doesn’t seem like they are sandbaging but their times arent that good and to me they look like they lost speed in last test. So your opinion would help to clear some clouds in my head…


Not as fast as Red Bull or McLaren at this stage


Could be some interesting battles between the Ferraris and Mercs?


Hmm James, was Ted(from sky sport) right for his statemenet about redbull showing off with their new car or am I foolish to say that the need for redbull is indeed realisaton that their car isn’t all that good and what about the costs it looks like redbull are getting the same treatment as Ferrari in years gone by. Surely they overspent much the same like last year I know F1 is all politics but still there has to limit…


I’m just wondering if Red Bull are immediately so confident in new RB8 that they cut short Vettel’s running today or they indeed are suffering those problems they say they had. if the latter, then it seems that RB8 is more to Mark’s liking than Seb’s or Mark is more to RB8’s liking than Seb is


I think Red Bulls weren’t getting the kind of performance edge they were expecting in the earlier tests; otherwise, why would they throw all that away and start essentially anew (so close to the first race)?..It just doesn’t make sense to me.


“Fernando Alonso’s patience running out”

Here we go!!

Tornillo Amarillo

Maybe Ferrari can ask for a technical support from Sauber this year :))

Like Mercedes in 2011, this year Ferrari can have a good qualy and good starts, and after that slips back (Button will be waiting as usual).

Showing off is not a good signal for RBR nor for anybody, so it is a good signal for McLaren doing a sound job. Hence it could be the year for Button again with the full support from the team he enjoys.

If 2011 was the tyres, 2012 with everybody closer, could be the year of “Strategies.”

Matthew Cheshire

I’d be happy to get brundle’s commentary. Assuming your radio feed wouldn’t be usable for TV. Glad to see you are still doing pieces for 10, i don’t miss those.Their team are OK but I tend to time the kettle for 8 minutes in…

Have they given you a shirt that fits this time? Or did you loose weight and catch them out?!

Good luck with the radio. Can we get it on line down here?

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