The Car’s The Real Star!
Can you give an inanimate object the credit for being the real star of the 2010 season? I’d like to make the case that you can and that we should bow down to Red Bull’s championship winning chassis, the RB6: or, as it’s otherwise known, Lucious Liz and Randy Mandy, nicknames given to them by Sebastian Vettel.
Some may think I should have chosen Adrian Newey as the star of the season, he’d be deserving on so many levels but why should the man at the top get all the plaudits? It’s true he’s a brilliant designer and one whom rumour has it, can imagine the air flowing over car component in his mind, before it’s gone anywhere near a wind tunnel test. A man who still designs on a draughtsman’s board in pen and paper instead of relying on computer design techniques, such is his understanding of the forces involved. But a team is much more than one man: even though Newey is highly skilled, a lateral thinker and capable of extracting the maximum possible from his designs within the scope of the Technical Regulations. But it’s not just down to him, long gone are the days when one guy could claim the credit for all aspects of a chassis’ design, nowadays many, many people are involved in the design and manufacture process. And it isn’t just successful design that makes for the complete package on the track, the “marriage” between the chassis, engine and drive train are just as important. Without the input of the whole team, such a car would not have been possible.
If not Newey, how about Horner?
I like Christian Horner, Red Bull’s charismatic team principal has been much in the news this year both to defend the cars’ legality (more on that later), to support his drivers when they have done well or indeed when things went wrong. I have to remember that this is still a young team and whilst Horner’s enthusiasm shows, he’s still not the complete article as far as managing the team goes. He’s struggled to do the right thing at times (Silverstone front wing replacement, for example) and doesn’t seem to be able to cope with two drivers who will absolutely not yield to each other. This, coupled with the teams’ lack of team orders to support their championship leading driver lead to Mark Webber’s “not bad for a number two driver” comment and the feeling that he didn’t have the teams full emotional support. For those reasons I believe that Horner isn’t the star even though the team won both championships.
One of the race drivers?
I may surprise people by suggesting that neither Red Bull driver (or indeed any other driver on the grid) deserves the real star accolade, especially as I’m a fan of the team, but even though Vettel and Webber had some stunning individual performances during the season there were also some extreme lows…I’m sure you don’t need to be reminded about them here. Either of the pair should have happily sewn up the championships several races before the end of the season, such was the advantage they had been given with the RB6. Instead, they both made unforced errors which saw a five way championship battle last until the final two races. That shouldn’t have happened!
With the Red Bull pair seemingly on self destruct at times, the RB6 remained the car to beat, its performances buoyed by some cool gizmo’s that helped secure the team 15 out of 19 possible pole positions, the class act of the field. What made the car so cool? It was all about downforce. Amongst the innovations that contributed to the increased downforce was pull rod rear suspension that allowed a lower rear wing design. Then there was the exhaust blown diffuser: although this wasn’t a totally new idea, Newey’s design was somewhat novel in that it let exhaust gasses pass into as well as over the diffuser leading to increased downforce. Another new concept was engine retardation used specifically during the Q3 session of qualifying. I don’t understand much about it in truth but there is an excellent review at ScarbsF1’s Blog on how this leads to another valuable boost to downforce. Of course the big news of the season was the RB6’s front wing and something called “aero-elasticity”. Though many teams sought clarification from the FIA of the rules regarding front wing flexing the car passed all the tests and the increased loading with flying colours.
So there you have it, my reasons for voting the car as this seasons star performer! It takes the whole teams effort to produce a championship winning car and what better than to reward the whole team than by choosing the car.
Posted as part of Sidepodcast’s Thursday Thoughts blogging initiative.
Image credit Red Bull / Getty images