Red Bull have become the first of F1’s “Big Three” to breaks covers on their 2018 car, the RB14, that they hope will allow them to be a serious contender in the title fights this season.
The new RB14 has been released in what the team are referring to as a “special edition livery,” with the team confirming they will unveil the cars official paint scheme at the first test in Spain next week.
Similar to the 2015 “Camo Bull” livery Red Bull ran in 2015 during testing, the dark black and blue livery is being used by the team to hide aerodynamic details especially around the chassis for a little longer. The idea being that the mess of shapes with distract the eye from taking in the full detail of the aero, and will mean Red Bull’s competitors may have a harder time trying to work out which way the team have gone on aero.
Despite the special edition livery, there are two big aero features that Red Bull couldn’t hide. The first is the very narrow and aggressive route the team have taken with the side pods. This is something that seems to be a common feature on the cars this year, with Williams running a similar setup on the FW41. Both teams are running significantly smaller side pods that we’re used to seeing, which in theory should affect the cars cooling abilities. Teams seem to have gotten around this by using aerodynamic airflow shaping devices in front of them to channel the air.
The second big feature is the rear wing endplate that cuts in towards the centre of the car in a more angular style than usual. This was again a feature that was spotted on the Haas car, the VF-18, though Red Bull’s RB14 has definitely gone more aggressive with this idea. This may be to compensate for the new exclusion zones round the rear of the car that have effectively meant T-wings, shark fins, and monkey seats are now illegal in Formula 1.
The RB14 will have a shakedown at Silverstone on Monday as part of the teams permitted filming day. While on track testing outside of the testing days allotted is illegal, teams are allowed two “promotional events” each year to film the car and take photos for promotional use only. These events are limited to 100km, while the car can only run specialist tyres designed by Pirelli for this kind of event.
The Milton Keynes based team had somewhat of an interesting year last season that saw them suffer as many race retirements as they collected podiums. Red Bull had been tipped as the team to watch in 2017 following the massive change in the aerodynamic rules, but they started their season poorly thanks to a correlation issue between the wind tunnel and on track data. The team were half a second off the pace of Ferrari and Mercedes early on, but a raft of in-season updates soon meant they caught up that deficit. By the end of the season the team had won two and the last six races, and showed promise that given the right car, they could well be championship contenders in 2018.
During the winter break it was announced that British sportscar maker Aston Martin had taken a title sponsor right with the team. Many are suggesting this could be seen as the first step for Aston Martin to make a full time return to F1 as engine builders in 2021, when the current engine rules are set to be changed again.
Engines are somewhat of a big discussion in the Red Bull camp as always, with the team facing a big decision in 2018 about their engine provider for the following seasons. The teams current contract with Renault is set to end this year, and there is a potential that Renault will not renew with Red Bull. This is because the team have been openly critical about the engines in recent years, culminating in a fight between Cyril Abiteboul and Red Bull Yong Driver Boss Dr Helmut Marko. If the team are not able to come to an agreement with Renault, chances are they will have to switch to a Honda engine like their junior team Toro Rosso.
Red Bull have kept their 2017 driver line up of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, which has been touted by many as the best driver line up on the grid. Both drivers will be looking to challenge, and win, their first ever Drivers’ World Championship this year.
Verstappen is seen as the new “wonderkid” of Formula 1. Aged just 20 the young Dutchman has had a rapid rise through the ranks to get to his Red Bull drive, and has impressed so far with his aggressive overtakes and wet weather skills. He signed a long-term contract with Red Bull last season that will see him stay with the outfit till the end of 2020.
Ricciardo is also seen as one of the stars of Formula 1 thanks to his last of the late breaking overtakes, and rather ruthless nature on track. He is well known for stealing victories and podiums from drivers if he can sense an opportunity to do so. The popular Australian is entering the final year of his contract with Red Bull, and has said he must be convinced by the teams title-winning potential before continuing with the team. The team will be hoping the RB14 will be all the convincing Ricciardo needs to stay on with the team.
The next car launch will be Renault and Sauber on the 20th of February.
2018 car unveilings and launch dates
Haas: February 14, VF-18
Williams: February 15, FW41
Red Bull: February 19, RB14
Renault: February 20, Online
Sauber: February 20, Online
Mercedes: February 22, Silverstone
Ferrari: February 22, Online
McLaren: February 23, TBC
Toro Rosso: February 26, Barcelona
Force India: To be confirmed