Red Bull RB9 Launch; Passive DRS


Red Bull 2013

This is the launch Formula 1 has been waiting for. What sort of speed machine has Adrian Newey and his merry men designed and built this year? The Red Bull livery is already part of Formula 1 folklore, and you just know that the blue and red colours are now part of history. So looking at the car evokes a similar sort of reaction to what you would experience if you pre-2008 Ferraris. The feeling of domination. For 2013, the already iconic red and blue colours are now mixed with a snazzy purple courtesy of their new title sponsor, Infinity. It looks simply fantastic and now definitely looks very different from a Torro Rosso.

Now the important technical bit.
Adrian Newey has evolved the 2012 car due to the stable regulations, and therefore it looks a lot like the 2012 model. The step nose is retained, although they have inserted a tiny vanity panel to smoothen the airflow, I suspect. He also hinted that the passive Double DRS system would be on the list of updates that would lavished on the 2013 car this year, although he did doubt their ability to give a massive laptime advantage, and eventually their ability to get points. The problem with the passive DRS is that it works like a loosely connected switch. The passive DRS system, also called 'The Device' by Lotus, is designed to stall the rear wing on the straights by activating an aero ‘switch’ when a certain speed is hit. This diverts the airflow and stalls the rear wing, cutting drag. The problem is ensuring that the switch activates and de-activates at the same speed, something that has proved tricky to achieve.

Pat Symond's take,
"It’s not yet in the public domain, but I suspect it relies on a cleverly designed nozzle capturing an air flow and forcing it to go supersonic, switching a fluidic device that diverts air to the lower surface of the wing. While it is extremely intricate it is by no means fanciful, since it is merely a logical extension of the lessons learned from the F-duct of 2011. It was the drivers who pushed for DRS to be limited in qualifying as they found it too difficult to manage. It is they who will now have to handle a system that will be anything but predictable as small changes to the system, such as air pressure or temperature, will greatly alter the speed at which drag (and downforce) reduction occurs and which will be totally out of their control."

So it is a tricky system to set up, and this why I predict only the very best engineers will persevere with this system. 2013 is a tricky year to plot. Any advantage gained in the beginning of the year will make development easier for 2014. I suspect only Red Bull and Lotus, who have the best aerodynamicists in business, will try to implement it. Lotus did have a headstart developing the 'Device', but Adrian Newey was busy working on the exhaust all this time, so Red Bull will have a fantastic downforce system at the back end of the car. I also suspect that Adrian has doubts over the legality of Lotus's 'Device', and he'll only start work if the FIA approve of the system. 2013 might just be the year when James Allison of Lotus ends the Red Bull domination. We'll just have to wait and see.

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