Image credits: © Red Bull.
2007 Red Bull RB3
Red Bull RB3: A Much Needed Lift
After coming out of the gates strong in its first season, Red Bull lost its buzz and crashed in 2006, despite a podium finish at Monaco. Being out-paced and embarrassed at times by its B-team counterparts, Toro Rosso, 2006 brought out the worst in the Red Bull team, and the RB2 took the brunt of much of the rage. While at times the RB2 showed promise, all-in-all, it appeared to be more like a drowsy patient than a wired thoroughbred. But that was all before Adrian Newey showed up. And like a new Red Bull drink with even more caffeine, the RB3 has hopes and energies running high.
The RB2 chassis achieved a third-place finish at the Monaco Grand Prix, the highest finish for the Red Bull team in its short history since switching from Jaguar and Stewart. The RB2 boasted of some innovative features as well. Some of these features were only seen on one or two other teams. Some of the design features included the V-keel design, the seamless gearbox, and improved suspension. And yet, for all intents and purposes, the RB2 was a bust. But what can be expected when development on the car stopped after France? At that moment, all focus was directed toward the development of the new RB3 design of Adrian Newey (who had come over from McLaren).
The new RB3 represents an all new, refreshed, attitude at Red Bull after such a disappointing 2006 season. And yet, not only does the RB3 represent an all new attitude the car itself is an all-new design, a total departure from last year's RB2. So after long last, here it comes… the apparent savior—the RB3.
After a truly disappointing season it would have been easy to figure that Red Bull's attitude would be 'all work' this year, and its ultra low-key launch would easily support that assumption. On a cool Friday morning at the track in Barcelona, void of fireworks or even a tent, the much anticipated RB3 chassis was rolled out before the assembled media for its first official presentation. Newey had already tipped people off about the car's design by saying it would be similar in appearance to the McLaren cars and he wasn't lying. Newey used the RB3 to continue design ideas he was still working on when he left McLaren, and therefore, many of those designs do bear an interesting similarity to the designs in existence on the McLarens, both past and present.
Right away, the new RB3 diverts away from last year's design and bears more similarities with a McLaren. The nose is lower and narrower than last year's car. The front wing retains its tri-deck design. This feature was rather unique to Red Bull given the fact that only one or two other teams ran with such a wing set-up. This year's design abandons the Renault style V-keel in favor of a zero-keel arrangement. The suspension members have been reworked and refined on the RB3 to improve airflow efficiency to the rest of the car.
Mid-way back it is easy to see that the airbox has been rounded compared to the RB2. The sidepods have also been extensively remodeled. Last year's design had the inlets canted in but further out from the chassis due to the fact that the pressure drop created by the airflow going around the outside of the car hindered cooling air being forced through the radiator inlet. Newey's design has allowed the necessary cooling air but also helps improve the efficiency of airflow around the car. The radiator inlets on the RB3 are curvy but much tighter in curvature. The sidepod and radiator inlets are wider, but the overall shape has been pulled in much tighter at the bottom of the sidepod. Following along with Ferrari, the rear-view mirrors have been moved further out on the sidepods to give the drivers an even better view of the wear on the rear wheels.
Much of the RB2's problems last year were cooling related. The Ferrari V8 generated a lot of heat under the cowling and Red Bull's engineers struggled to rid the car of the dangerous temperatures. Many changes to help aid in cooling had to be made but at the cost of aerodynamic and downforce efficiency. However, with Red Bull's new deal with Renault, and Adrian Newey's redesign of the chassis, overheating seems to be of little concern. Nonetheless, the chimneys remain for cooling purpose, though highly modified from those found on the RB2. The T-wing and rear-wheel flicks have been remodeled to provide better stability and airflow. And, there is a larger vertical plate under the rear flicks that both help with support, but also, the direction of the airflow toward the rear end of the car.
The engine cowling has been refined, pulling in tighter at the rear of the car. The exhaust chimneys have been updated for improved airflow and to fit the Renault engine. The RB3 retains the mid-span wing profile that attaches to dorsal-style cowling. This feature was added to the RB2 during the season last year and helps direct airflow at the rear of the car and at the rear wing. Another of the notable changes from last year's chassis is the RB3's reversion to the double-mast center support system for the rear wing. Last year, the rear wing relied upon the endplates for its support. Many teams have struggled with rear-wing failures and have either refined it or looked more toward a single center-post setup. Red Bull appears to be no exception in this case. Besides, its support, the rear wing itself has been refined and carries arching shapes in its design. Of course, of the external changes Red Bull has to test and get used to, the Bridgestone tires are the biggest detractor of time and energy. With all of Formula One running on Bridgestone tires, Red Bull has some homework to do to truly be as competitive as possible since the team ran on Michelin tires last year.
Some other tangible changes and refinements went on within the team and the RB3 to ensure Red Bull would be a competitive force on the grid this year. The team principals made the decision to switch to Renault engines. The seamless shift gearbox remains on this year's car. And finally, besides Adrian Newey coming over from McLaren, Mark Webber now joins David Coulthard behind the wheel of the second RB3. This provides Red Bull with two drivers that are not only competitive, but they also highly experienced. And this helps the team with feedback, which enables the engineers to make improvements to the car at each race and throughout the season.
Though admittedly nervous given the expectations, Christian Horner, Newey, and everyone at Red Bull, believe the RB3 chassis, as well as, its driver line-up gives them an advantage to be more competitive than ever before. Sometimes, to get over a bad experience it's almost more advantageous to throw everything out and start with a clean sheet of paper, and that is where the Red Bull team found themselves after last season. However, to Red Bull, the RB3 represents that fresh, brand-new, start for the team. The RB3 represents the team's dedication to be one of the elite in Formula One and not just a good competitor. And yet, no doubt, some of the sponsor's product was consumed during those long nights preparing this chassis to be able to run with the other bulls.By Jeremy McMullen
The first Adrian Newey designed Red Bull was launched earlier today with much anticipation. Launched at Spain's main testing circuit and host of their Grand Prix - Circuit de Catalunya - the RB3 has been designed from a blank sheet of paper by the main responsible for countless victories and championships with Williams and McLaren.
While the launch was low-key, both drivers hope that the new 2007 challenger will raise the team above the mid-field standard and both drivers have their eyes set firmly on the big manufacturers, namely BMW, Toyota and Honda.
Australia's Mark Webber - who joins the team after a woeful 2006 season with Willams - is buoyed about the upcoming season, and admits that while his motivation was challenged in the previous two years, is now itching to get back into the fighting spirit with his new team.
I'd say I've been quite motivated to get fit, which in the last few years was there but maybe wasn't as intense as it has been in the last few months – which is good for me because it shows my general excitement for the whole campaign basically. I am refreshed, I'm different at home apparently! I'm excited.
The feeling in the team is good and everyone's got a spring in their step. It's an exciting young team – obviously it's been around with Stewart and Jaguar but it's still quite young. We're going up against big manufacturers but we want to get amongst those guys and that's what we're here for, to go out and make a difference. Mark Webber.
David Coulthard was a little more realistic in his predictions for 2007, but confirmed he still has the determination to succeed with Red Bull.
The first step has to be to get out of the back division, which is where we've been for the last two years, and trying to get into the middle division, which means beating manufacturer teams which have been around for longer than the Red Bull organisation. That has to be the goal, I believe it's achievable. Only time will tell whether this car can deliver or not. David Coulthard.
David also gave us a little taste of some of the technical knowledge he has picked up in his many years of compeition.
Engine : 8-cylinder
The Renault engine is proven, but it's not proven strapped to the back of a Red Bull, so we need to go through those growing pains of getting the electronic boxes to talk to each other, cooling and all those sorts of things. David Coulthard.
I'm sure Red Bull Racing are steering themselves in the right direction. They have acquired the services of quite possibly one of the world's finest aerodynamicists, they have strapped a Renault to the back of it and they appear to have remotivated Mark Webber, who in turn will keep Coulthard on his toes. While it may not be enough for this season, I'm sure Red Bull will continue their pursuit and one day step on the top step of the podium on merit.Source - Renault
Spanish Grand Prix Highlight: The Old Bull is Awakened
Ornery old bulls can still put up a fierce fight. Nothing gets David Coulthard more ornery than being reminded of his age. And this is one Red Bull driver that still can be fiercely competitive and can be extremely dangerous when tangled with.
Coming into Spain, David Coulthard's performances had gone relatively unnoticed, and justifiably so since Coulthard had been unable to finish any of the first three races. However, if Coulthard had been behind the wheel of the McLaren-Mercedes once again things might have been looked at differently. People probably would have been saying, 'Bad luck' while speaking praises at the same time. But David isn't behind the wheel of the McLaren anymore. He is behind the wheel of the Red Bull Renault RBR3. And so far, the car's performances, and more so its reliability and stamina, have appeared more akin to the short-lived buzz the title sponsor's energy drink provides.
In the race for the championship and for the hearts of the fans results are paramount, not the 'good' drive. However, if a person was able to look past the results for a moment, he or she would have noticed some fantastic performances by the old, seemingly 'Out to Pasture' Red Bull driver. To the casual observer, it all came together in Spain, and one fantastic drive was the result. But ironically, while Spain produced David's best finish of the year to date, it may not have been his best race.
In Australia, David's race ended prematurely as the result of a collision. He was running well to that point given the fragility the car had shown in pre-season testing. Malaysia was going even better. David was climbing up through the field. However, toward the end of the race his car became too dangerous to drive. The full travel of his brake pedal was being hindered. This meant Coulthard couldn't keep up the pace without the fear of being unable to stop the car. This unusual condition led to Coulthard's retirement just when things were looking promising.
Then there was Bahrain. The Bahrain grand prix proved to be like a dog on a leash for David Coulthard; room to play but too short to reach the ultimate goal. But what leash Coulthard had he made the most of. He turned in a spirited and fantastic drive, one any racer would have been proud to claim for his or her self. If David had been able to finish he may have been the highlight of the whole race.
Relegated to the back of the grid due to gearbox problems, Coulthard faced the reality of a long day and the uncertainty of a car able to make it to the end. This would be one of those races where David simply chose of will to fight his way through the field for the best possible result. At times in the past when David made up his mind like this the drive was sensational to behold. This grand prix looked to be another one of those moments. Sheer will seemed to propel Coulthard forward in a fashion similar to that of Nigel Mansell in his days with Ferrari.
This day and age in Formula One, a car following fifty yards back is considered to be racing wheel-to-wheel with a competitor. David, however, revived the old style of racing in Bahrain as he climbed his way up. With laps winding down, Coulthard had ascended all the way up to seventh. This would have been a splendid result and a drive for the history books would it have ended right then. But again, the RBR3 proved fragile and a broken driveshaft ended David's glorious run.
And so, here David was coming into Spain amidst rumors he was racing for his job next season. Yes, based on results, such rumors were justified. But were they really justified? Were an individual to believe the rumors, then David provided as good a negotiating offer as possible—a good result.
Coulthard started the Spanish grand prix well by qualifying in the top ten—the first time, up to that point in the season. David was able to make good ground at the start which allowed him to move up just outside the top five. Coulthard would hold position and would be patient. Mistakes and failures by others led to Coulthard moving up even further. In fact, by the last round of stops Coulthard wasn't merely running in the points, he was running a solid fifth. But David's experience would have to help him to bring that fifth spot home.
Spain saw the debut of Red Bull's seamless-shifting gearbox. While confidence about what the system would provide was high, confidence about its ability to make it a race distance was extremely low. The team made the decision that at some point their drivers would have to switch back to the old style shifting gearbox. Coupled to this decision was the fact Coulthard had lost a gear late in the race. So, to merely finish his first race of the season, Coulthard would need all of his experience and will. But the old veteran built up enough of a lead over hard charging Nico Rosberg that he would eventually hold him off over the last ten laps for a hard fought and well-deserved fifth.
Before Spain, there were no highlights for Red Bull Racing. With one drive, Coulthard became the highlight of the Spanish grand prix. Good drives are quite often overlooked when they don't produce results. But to be so blinded means spirited and memorable performances go unnoticed. The highlight of Spain was provided by one of the old men of Formula One. And this serves as a reminder. Even old bulls can be dangerous when threatened or provoked.By Jeremy McMullen