After winning their fourth Constructors’ title last year, many predicted Red Bull to be the team to beat coming into 2014. With the rule book torn to pieces, this year presents an opportunity for other teams to steal a march on the highly successful Milton Keynes outfit. Early indications during pre-season testing suggest this year could be their toughest yet, but don’t write them off at this stage. The RB10 has some neat design touches and plenty of developments to come.
Adrian Newey has dubbed the RB10’s nose design as the “keel” nose, referring to the appendage beneath a boat that acts as a balance against the water, as the appendage that is required to meet the regulations stems vertically downwards from the main body of the nose.
The design is far more elegant than the now-traditional “finger” concepts that have sprouted on the cars up and down the grid, utilising a clever cross sectional area to meet the new regulations. The keel still allows a large amount of airflow to pass beneath the chassis with the added benefit of presenting a more efficient nose tip to the oncoming airflow that should reduce the likelihood of understeer in yaw (turning).
The nose tip itself is quite large, but it features a slotted ‘u’ shape to prevent high pressure air building up in this region. This slot is an alternative solution to the small mesh/grills we normally see to cool either the driver or some of the electronic systems.
Either side and behind the tip there is plenty of room for airflow to pass beneath the nose and underneath the chassis towards the leading edge of the floor, inducing a little more rear downforce as a result.
As Red Bull have designed the RB10 around a stepped chassis, the visible step below has been made useful in the shape of a long, horizontal duct. Just like last season, the team are using this duct to transfer inadequate boundary layer airflow beneath the chassis to a point above the car exiting rewards. This air is then used to keep airflow passing over the top of the car attached along the long section towards the cockpit. This is further aided by the chassis sloping slightly downwards to the cockpit entrance rather than remaining horizontal.
The inlet duct beneath the car is surrounded by a pair of turning vanes, each with a ridged slot. These vanes will help airflow reach the undercut of the sidepod which guides it towards the central section of the diffuser.
An evolution of the 2013 front wing is evident on the launch specification RB10, featuring no more than 6 elements. I would expect a little more development around the endplate section to come as we get closer to Australia in March.
Despite their heavily undercut appearance, you can’t help but notice the larger intake size that the Renault powered Red Bull has compared to the competition this year. In addition to these large intakes is the small inlet beneath the roll hoop, exploited for a few years to cool the gearbox. However this year it could be used to cool just the turbo unit, with the airbox providing sufficient cooling for the engine itself and the gearbox.
Ahead of the sidepod intakes, the team have incorporated similar devices used on last year’s RB9 to produce vortices over the sidepods: a horizontal canard, a single vortex generator fence and and overhanging element stemming from the sidepod airflow conditioner.
A long strand of cooling gills have been placed either side of the head protection blocks to provide another exit for the hot, stagnant air built up inside the engine and ERS devices.
It is no secret that Newey likes to package his cars tightly in order to maximise aerodynamic performance. This year’s car is no different and it is for this reason that perhaps Red Bull in particular are struggling to put the laps in – just 12 laps covered so far during the testing period.
The ‘pods may be simplistic in their profile (for now), but they taper heavily at the coke bottle region of the car with no cooling outlets present ahead of the rear suspension like other teams are doing. They are instead ducting all of the hot air out of one large outlet at the rear of the car over the top of the diffuser. This makes a lot of room for highly energised airflow to pass around the undercut of the sidepod but it leaves the car vulnerable to overheating, especially as they have not opened up the central section of bodywork around the exhaust.
Currently there isn’t too much to shout about over the rear of the ‘Bull, but this is all likely to change over the next few test sessions. This is no surprise as not only do the team tend to leave a lot of performance in their pocket during the early months, but the car is believed to have only passed its crash tests a mere 12 days ago.
A simplistic rear wing, which does not feature any horizontal louvres aside the rear wing profile, is mounted via an interesting – if rather temporary – central pylon that connects to the engine cover.
The exhaust exit is positioned very high up, probably to the highest point it is allowed within the regulations (550mm above the reference plane). Eventually a Monkey Seat winglet will be placed behind the exhaust, presumably above it, to create an upwashing effect at the rear of the car.
As the beam wing is no longer within the regulations, it is important for teams to regain this effect to extract performance from the rear wing and the diffuser. A higher exhaust exit places the upwashing effect higher up the car towards the base of the rear wing, thus producing more rear downforce.
The complex arrangement of scrolled fences and slots ahead of the rear tyre appear to be discarded for now, although I would expect to see them very soon as Red Bull have a lot of mileage to catch up on. The team will be wanting to get plenty of mileage under its belt and speed up its aero analysis program after all the lost time in Jerez, so we could be seeing a lot of upgrades filter through earlier than expected when we reach Bahrain next month.
Images courtesy of Red Bull Racing and Octane Photographic