If the R ed Bull from the season finale in Abu Dhabi again in Melbourne, the On the scene of the first race, it would have been more than a second faster. 'One second is all about aerodynamics,' says chief designer Adrian Newey, 'the rest is a better understanding of the tires and chassis modifications. This proportion is difficult to quantify.'
Adrian Newey: Racing car development then and now
Newey also knows other times. 20 years ago at March, the development steps could be followed visually. They only existed every couple of races, and the engineers weren't as detailed as they are today. 'We were ten engineers at March. At Red Bull there are 150, 50 of them for aerodynamics alone,' Newey draws a comparison. Red Bull operates its wind tunnel five and a half days a week for 24 hours due to the latest FIA restrictions. 'We rented somewhere near March. Every four weeks, for five days. There weren't any night shifts.'
CAD and CFD vs. Wind tunnel and drawing board
The tools have become so good that you can use them to filter out improvements of less than a tenth of a second. In the past, such a modification idea would have disappeared in the trash because its progress would not have been measurable. The man who continues to sketch his ideas on a drawing board has a split relationship with computers. Newey leaves CAD, i.e. computer-aided design, to the younger guild. CFD, the virtual representation of the flow on a Formula 1 car, has meanwhile found its way into Newey's office.
The test ban has put new fetters on the engineers. 'We now have to believe the laboratory data even more,' says Newey with obvious discomfort and restricts: 'Friday training is not a substitute for test drives. There is still no rubber on the track, so the tire degradation is very high. There are no real comparison drives possible because the route changes constantly on the first day. ' That is why the most expensive designer in Formula 1 has a bad suspicion: 'It is quite possible that we changed things on the car that were then no better. In the absence of confirmation on the track, we had to believe the data.'
The double diffuser comes into the Red BullQuere
The RB5 was the most extreme car in the field last season. The V-shape chassis, the deeply drawn-down rear and the tension strut technology on the rear axle are typical Newey ingredients. The use of the rear axle geometry, which was abandoned 15 years ago, quickly turned into a boomerang. When Red Bull had to install a double diffuser in the rear, the tension struts got in the way. And the transmission oil lines. 'Actually a trivial detail. But if you have to turn your car upside down, it can be decisive.'
Newey estimates the advantage of the multi-level sub-floor compared to the classic variant to be at least half a second. Reacting to the advantage of the Brawn GP, which was equipped with a double diffuser from the start, kept Red Bull busy all year round. 'The improvement was not planned. That is why our first version for Monaco was created under extreme time pressure without the necessary research.' At Silverstone, the Red Bull also had a real double diffuser. In fact, there were four channels winding around the obstacles in the stern. The step promptly took half a second. The optimization of the concept for Singapore, in which the two upper channels were merged into one, resulted in a time gain of three tenths of a second.
Front wing the 51st ...
The most important detail next to the diffuser is the front wing. It was constantly changing. The season began with number 33 and ended with number 51. Because the wing grew by 40 centimeters in width, the engineers were faced with a problem: How do I direct the air around the front wheels so that I don't destroy the flow to the rear? 'The best diffuser is of no use if it is not properly flown against.' Much work has been put into the wing's end plates and flaps. You determine where the turbulence is directed.
Aesthet Newey has little use for the rear wing: 'A clunky, inelegant part. With a given downforce, it almost doesn't matter what you do: the air resistance is almost always the same.' Only the lower element is important. 'The stern was designed to be flat enough to offer the lower wing the optimal flow.' Newey made only one visible hand on the fairing: 'When we integrated the double diffuser, we needed a new air outlet for the side pods due to lack of space. We placed it at the top of the end of the airbox. It looks like a rocket engine and is internally also like that '
No Formula 1 car is fast everywhere
The comparison between the two best cars of the year is short and sweet at Newey:' We were better in fast corners, the Brawn GP at slow speeds and wherever engine power counts. ' There is a middle ground atthe tight time intervals no longer. 'It already turned out at the duel Ferrari against McLaren in 2007 and 2008 showed that the route characteristics determine who has advantages where. '