Red Bull, the RB8 and the Nose Duct
Has Adrian Newey done it again? The World Champions revealed the RB8 today and it goes into the season the favourite to repeat its success. Fans may be disappointed that it is not bucking the trend for crooked noses but the RB8 does sport a little trick on its bump. However, will it be enough to offset having to compromise the front design?
It came as no surprise that Red Bull will face 2012 with a nose bump. If nothing else, Helmut Marko’s claim that “our car is not as ugly as the Ferrari…” dispelled any optimism that they’d take a different route – ‘not as ugly’ doesn’t equate to ‘beautiful’. However, the bump does contain a narrow slot split (and possibly partly supported) by the pitot tube, as shown in the lightened image above. It’s possibly only the driver cooling inlet but it seems larger than drivers are normally provided with. Aerodynamics sacrificed in the name of driver comfort? Not a chance! It’s possibly involved in cooling internal components, such as KERS or is there a secondary aerodynamic benefit? In all probability, it is simply to aid the airflow over the bump. Still, it has people talking.
At the back, Red Bull have been faced with the task of trying to recover the lost downforce that comes with exhaust blown diffusers. As one of the most successful setups, they’ve got more to lose than most and it also effects the ride height they can use. “The exhaust allowed us to run a high rear ride height,” explains Adrian Newey, “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 RB7 relied on quite a pronounced rake and it was for this reason that Red Bull objected to a mid-season ban on exhaust blown diffusers. Coupled with the new nose regulations, it seems that the rule changes have been stacked against Red Bull and in favour of McLaren, whose 2011 car was low-nosed and low-running. So will the advantage swing towards the Woking outift?
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With two titles under his belt, Sebastian Vettel will be keen to make it three in a row. His confidence is sky high and it showed in an impeccable season of great maturity. On the other side of the garage, however, it’s a different matter: Mark Webber took a mental battering in 2011. He now has a point to prove to himself, fans and the team – after all, the ejection of Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari from Toro Rosso shows just how unemotional Formula One can be.
What do you make of the RB8? Will it again be the car to beat? Can Mark Webber bounce back? Or will it be the Sebastian show? Let us know your thoughts in the comments…
Credit: Red Bull Racing