Red Bull has introduced their first F1 car with Honda power and expectations ahead of the start of the season are big – how Red Bull engineers led by Adrian Newey pushed the boundaries and what brings the aggressive looking RB15?
Last year Red Bull won four races with Renault power unit, which was more than 50 HP behind Mercedes and Ferrari in qualifying and somewhere between 20 and 30 HP in the race, according to Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul.
On the tacks where, due to the high altitude, the impact of power deficit is smaller, such as Austria, Mexico and Brazil, Red Bull was very fast, especially in the race where they benefited from the best tyre wear.
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If Honda is near the gap that Renault had last year, which is the least that Red Bull expects, and if the chassis is good at least as last year, Red Bull should again be in a position to challenge for the race wins while Honda should bag their first win since returning to Formula 1 with McLaren in 2015.
The title challenge is doubtful due to questionable reliability, but if Red Bull Honda opens the new F1 season impressively, appetites will certainly grow.
Nose and front wing
Red Bull retained the hollow nose (purple) that they introduced in 2017 and which, perhaps surprisingly, hasn’t been copied in that form so far, and Red Bull divided its inlet with nine vertical slots which hide the S-duct system entry.
The front wing is wider and simpler and the main element (yellow) occupies about half the depth of a central, 50 cm wide neutral section, increasing its chord towards the endplates.
As with Haas and Toro Rosso, the first two elements are joined on the neutral section, while Mercedesa, Renault and Red Bull merge with central section only with the main element. This year, the teams can only use two vertical fences underneath the front wing (red) and above one of them there is a front wing flap adjuster (turquoise) which points to the outside wall of the front tyre.
The front wing endplate (orange) is, as on all other 2019 F1 cars except the Mercedes, curved slightly outwards to direct the air to the outside of the rotating front wheels, creating a small outwash effect that new rules try to forbid.
In the picture above, we see the front wing from the different angle, as well as the interesting hanging vanes under the chassis (yellow) that Renault did not show in their studio photographs. Vanes accept the airflow from the front wing and prepare it for aerodynamic elements behind it.
Front suspension and area behind the front wheels
Red Bull is still using a pushrod (turquoise) front suspension with double wishbones (red) which are carefully designed to ensure the best possible airflow between them to get as laminar flow as possible to the sidepod inlets.
The front and rear wishbone legs are placed one behind the other in order to reduce the turbulence caused by their shape. The brake ducts are, as on all other 2019 F1 cars, much simpler than in 2018.
Next to the pushrod chassis mounting point is the output of the S-duct system (yellow) which is unique due to the small wing above it and its function is to accelerate the airflow from the S-duct system and thereby improve the airflow connection with the chassis surface on this steep part.
The area behind the front wheels is interesting because Red Bull has found a way to use the 2018 height front part of the bargeboards (light blue, ending with the letter N below the ASTON sign) close to the chassis while the remainder of the multi-slotted bargeboard structure (also in light blue) is lower level as per new 2019 rules.
Red Bull has kept a long boomerang wing (turquoise) stretching all the way to the vertical element (purple) in front of the sidepods, and at its foot there are a few curved knife-like vanes that they used last year. The low bargeboard (blue) connecting the main bargeboard (light blue) and vertical vane (purple) has five vortex generators at its top edge.
Red Bull has retained the sidepod concept they used last year when they were inspired by Ferrari SF70H from 2017 and this year they were even more aggressive and took the concept to another new level.
The sidepod inlet (orange) is incredibly low and small, positioned between two horizontal, aerodynamically profiled safety structures (yellow), with the lower structure connected to the vertical vane (purple) and with its profile pointed downward.
Red Bull decided, as in 2018, to put as much power unit components and coolers as possible above the engine to free up space in the sidepods. Change from Renault to Honda, which from 2017 has split turbo and a compressor like Mercedes (Ferrari and Renault have turbo and compressor at the rear side of the engine) didn’t force Red Bull to change their power unit integration philosophy.
Red Bull RB15 sidepods tapper down incredibly early and steeply and rear-view mirrors are even more complex than last year and have two carriers (orange) – one is attached to the chassis and the other to the bottom horizontal structure. The carriers are carefully designed to shape the airflow around the cockpit and along the sidepods.
As you can see in the above photo, the upper part of the engine cover is quite filled and the shark fin that longitudinally divides the engine cover is barely visible. Yellow marked contours clearly show how early and steep the cover is lowered at the front.
The airbox above the driver’s head is similar in shape to the last year although the photographs don’t reveal in how many parts airbox is split.
Rear suspension and rear end
Red Bull RB15 has pullrod rear suspension that Newey reintroduced in F1 with 2009 RB5 and the wishbones are tilted towards the rear wheels, as well as on last year’s RB14.
The rear wing has simpler endplates (yellow) that have a vertical extension at the back while at the bottom there are several smaller, hardly visible slits.
Red Bull did not use the T-wing on the first specification of their new car and the rear wing is held by a single carrier through which the main exhaust pipe passes through. The engine cover is pretty tightly packed around the central exhaust pipe, but last year’s RB14 was even more extreme so it is possible that the RB15 will eventually get even narrower engine cover at this point when Red Bull will be more confident in its cooling calculations.
In the photo above you can see some slits (red) on the floor in front of the rear wheels (and a larger slit directly in front of the rear wheel) as well as two longitudinal slots that have a similar function while n front of the inner part of the wheel there is also a smaller horizontal fence that tries to separate an airflow traveling over the diffuser from the turbulence caused by the rotation of the rear wheel.