The Red Bull RB8 ran its first laps in the hands of Mark Webber at Jerez this morning, and after its debut technical director Adrian Newey had some interesting comments to make about the car.
He insists that it still has much in common with the RB5 of 2009, although over time the design has adapted to various rule changes. He also said that RBR lost more than most with the ban on exhaut blown diffusers.
“The principal challenge has been the restriction in the exhaust outlet position,” said Newey. “Coupled with the restriction on engine mapping, which really means we’ve lost the exhaust blown technology that we developed initially in 2010 and then took a further step last year.
“Certainly last year’s car was designed around that, we adopted that exhaust position in the wind tunnel in August and designed the car around it.
“Perhaps other people copied ours and therefore hadn’t designed their car around it. If you lose that, it stands to reason that you perhaps lose more than other people. Obviously the work over the winter has been to try and mitigate against that, but it’s a lost technology, it can’t simply be re-invented.”
Newey admits that the nose of the car is not as pleasing as he would have liked.
“That’s really a product of the regulation that has restricted the height of the nose, but not the height of the chassis. We’ve taken a high nose route, along with most of the field, and to satisfy that regulation we’ve ended up with an awkward looking step at the front. Those who pursued a lower nose in the first place have managed to maintain a smooth shape.”
Intriguingly he said that the car is not as steeply raked as its predecessor. Last year there was controversy over the way the front wing appeared to be closer to the ground than that of other cars. The lack of exhaust blowing has changed that.
“Yes, it certainly means that the very good rear downforce that we were able to enjoy at high rear ride height is massively compromised. So part of the work on this year’s car had to be reducing the rake from what we had last year.”
Asked by this writer about the RB8’s exhaust position, Newey played down the significance.
“I think in truth there’s not a lot to come out of exhausts. What often happens in those situations is you get a reasonable variety of different positions, because there’s not a lot to be gained from it. We’ve obviously launched in the position we’re in – other people are taking different routes. As I say I doubt if there’s a lot to be had from the various different positions that people are sporting.”
Newey also said that the hole at the top of the nose was “primarily for driver cooling.”