RED BULL RB7
Adrian Newey joined Red Bull during a period of stability in the technical regulations, and spent his first three seasons there trying to engineer a change in working culture as much as improving the cars themselves. It was the major step change in 2009 – with new rules mandating wider, lower front wings and higher, narrower rear wings, with simplified aero in between – that let him establish a new template for success.
“The timing of the regulation change was very opportune,” Newey explained. “We’d got to the point where everything was working better and we could say: ‘Here’s the design challenge for this new set of regulations. Let’s get on with it.’”
A defining characteristic of Newey’s genius is his ability to respond creatively to a seemingly insurmountable challenge. The first Red Bull chassis for the new era lacked the double-deck diffuser run by Brawn, Williams and Toyota that delivered a useful dose of extra downforce. To this day Newey believes these designs were illegal, and were permitted only as part of a wider political play by then FIA president Max Mosley. But even as the fight over their legality was in full swing, Newey was quietly working out how best to retro-fit one to his car.
Another challenge was the fact that the Renault engine wasn’t the most powerful. For 2010’s RB6 and its successor, the RB7, Newey’s team found a cunning way to exploit the exhaust gas to boost downforce. Routing the exhaust exits via the diffuser to accelerate the flow of air through it had been done before in F1, but the effect was never consistent because the flow tailed off when the driver got off the throttle.
Renault found a way to map the engine so that when the driver lifted off the throttle, the V8 continued to pump air through the exhaust. They called this ‘cold blowing’. They made the effect more powerful by letting a small amount of fuel pass through as well, igniting in the exhaust itself (known as ‘hot blowing’). This enabled Red Bull to run their cars with an advantageous nosedown rake that rivals struggled to emulate.
Red Bull took both championships in 2010 as controversy raged over their car’s legality. The rancour continued into 2011 as Sebastian Vettel won 11 of the 19 races in his RB7 – now equipped with KERS – and the FIA tried to close the blown-diffuser box, much to Newey’s frustration.
“Regulation changes I enjoy; regulation restrictions I rather lament,” he said. Carbon-fibre composite monocoque Double wishbones, pushrod actuated torsion bar springs (front) and pullrod actuated torsion bar springs (rear) Renault RS27 V8 2,400cc N/A Red Bull 7-speed semi-automatic 640kg N/A Pirelli Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber Adrian Newey