Red Bull launched its new 2013 challenger the RB9 today in a ceremony at the team’s base in Milton Keynes, near Silverstone.
But we will have to wait until testing starts next week to see what changes and evolutions the team has made as the launch car gave little or nothing away.
It’s going to be a tough season for all the top teams and Red Bull know that the successes of the last three years mean nothing when the new season starts. If anything, maintaining the astonishing work rate and inspiration gets harder with each passing year and keeping their noses in front will be a challenge this year.
Triple world champion Sebastian Vettel said that he expects a very hard grind of a season, with little to choose between the top car and driver combinations, consistency and getting all the details right every time will be crucial,
“It will be tough; tough to beat Mark (Webber), tough to beat the other guys and the other teams because they will try everything to beat us. Obviously the last three years have been very good for us and we’ve managed to beat them but there’s no guarantee or nothing that helps us to keep winning and keep doing a good job. So we really have to focus every single time – or in our case every single lap – and try to get everything together.”
Mark Webber begins his seventh season with the Red Bull team and is now the oldest driver in F1 at the age of 36.
Despite some heckling from the sidelines of his own team, from Red Bull special advisor Helmut Marko, Webber believes that he will have a chance to prove this year that he can challenge for the championship and sustain that challenge,
“I do believe I can have a crack at the Championship again this year, as I have done in previous seasons,” he said. “That’s what I’m getting up each day thinking.
“The team know I need 100 percent support, you can’t win World Championships with 99 percent support. That’s what I’m confident of.”
As for the technical side of the car, we have already seen the new models from McLaren and Ferrari, so all eyes were on the Red Bull to see what innovations Adrian Newey and his team had come up with as they seek a forth consecutive title winning car.
If Ferrari were playing their cards close to their chests this week by unveiling a car with only a handful of obvious updates from the 2012 model, then Red Bull took it one step further; technical experts were straining to see what changes there were on the “new” Red Bull; perhaps there is a game at play, as they keep the testing car out of site. We will see over the next few days when it hits the track in Jerez. Like the Ferrari, it is sure to be quite different at the final test in Barcelona when the definitive aerodynamic package for the first race is bolted on.
It will be next week, therefore, before we get a real chance to technically review the RB9. Adrian Newey is famous for vetting photos of the new car and consequently the launch photos give little away, with geometry that appears very much a carbon copy of the RB8, apart from a change to the detailing around the retained stepped nose.
Echoing the sentiments of other technical directors like Lotus’ James Allison at his launch, that the car was an evolution, with significant detail changes, Newey said that the new car was very much an evolution of the 2012 model, “It’s really been a case of refining the RB8,” he said. “There are no huge changes. It’s very much an evolutionary car. All the principles the same as last year.
“The devil has very much been in the detail with this car. We’ve tidied up some bits that we felt could be improved on. Development is now the key through the year.”
Asked what he thought the key to the season would be technically, Newey replied, “Understand the tyres; every time we thought we understood them last year some fresh surprise would come, and the change in the tyres will be interesting this year so I’m sure that will be a huge learning area.
“The rest I think will be very much a detailed evolution of the aerodynamics and trying to tune the car to the drivers’ liking.”
It will be interesting when testing starts, to see what development they have done, especially around the rear of the car, where last year they managed the coanda exhaust, diffuser, brake duct drum cascade and rear wing flows very well.