Last year proved to be a good campaign for Red Bull Racing, a season where the team finally put a good car to excellent use. The Milton Keynes-based squad took the challenge to Brawn, and despite a stuttering start, perhaps mostly due to the diffuser issue, Christian Horner’s team finally found the pace to push for the title. With arguably the best chassis on the grid, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel drove well, picking up victories and keeping themselves in the hunt for the titles. Of course, they didn’t quite make it and the fairytale ending went to the former Honda outfit, but that shouldn’t overshadow the great improvements made at Red Bull, or what they can potentially carry over to 2010.
The sixth car to come from Red Bull Racing is once again designed by legendary aerodynamicist, Adrian Newey. Mr Newey has penned some of the sport’s greatest cars, helping Williams and McLaren to find championship winning success. While the Briton may be known for his uncompromising attention to detail and performance, it is these factors that make his cars so fast and efficient. The momentum may have taken a while to get going at Red Bull, but now Newey has found his groove, there can be little doubt that this will continue.
The RB6 was launched with little fanfare at the Jerez circuit in Spain, like so many others being unveiled ahead of a group test. Following the success of the previous RB5 chassis, the world’s media were particularly interested in seeing what would come of the 2009 successor. In fact, most of the grid was looking to see what would come of the new car, with so many teams adopting similar ideas that were incorporated into the RB5.
The front section has followed the traits of many others, with a higher nose that suggests, along with the stability in the rules, that the teams are clawing back much of the downforce that had been lost last year. The raised nose helps make the front section appear slimmer and narrower, more pronounced in the new Virgin VR-01, although perhaps helped visually by the colour scheme used.
The nose rises to the suspension mounts before falling slightly towards the cockpit, again something a few other teams have adopted. Of course, the dip on the top of the monocoque is present, partially down to the mounts that attach to the chassis at the same point, although made more extreme by Newey presumably for aerodynamic gain. The highly-sculptured sidepods flow rearwards over the engine cover which, like for the past few years, incorporates a shark-fin which helps with stability under braking. The car, unlike the RB5 one year ago, features a double-diffuser from the offset.
Red Bull Racing have retained both their drivers for 2010, an obvious move considering how well they both performed in 2009. This puts the squad at an immediate advantage over Ferrari (who have replaced Kimi Raikkonen with Fernando Alonso), McLaren (who have replaced Heikki Kovalainen with Jenson Button) and Mercedes (formerly Brawn, who have replaced both drivers). Maintaining this consistency between campaigns will help the car’s development as both drivers will have intimate knowledge of how the RB5 performed and also of how the designers and engineers work.
This year will be important for Red Bull Racing as they have to continue their momentum and challenge for the titles. 2009 saw some controversy over the rules which initially hampered their efforts, but with little changes over the winter, Horner’s team need to hit the ground running and stamp their new-found authority over their rivals.
Red Bull Racing’s car designation system refers to the initials of the parent team name and parent company, Red Bull, and an incremental numbering system that for 2010, has reached 6. Hence, RB6.