Red Bull projects itself into the future and is not satisfied with dominating the present. The Milton Keynes team is chasing the records of the 2023 season (it has already collected 10 victories in 10 races run), but does not hesitate to promptly raise the bar of its competitiveness, forcing the others to chase each other whenever the opponents have the feeling that they have approached the RB19, a single-seater which, together with the RB5, must be considered among the most representative of Adrian Newey in the Red Bull Racing era.
Adrian Newey, Red Bull Racing
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
The engineer from Stratford-upon-Avon has always been faithful to his creed: there is no constraint on the development of an idea and his mind is never satisfied, because he continues to churn out ideas that are the evolution of well-known but constantly evolving concepts. And a working group has formed around him that manages to comply with his wishes: visits to the starting grid before the start of the GPs are precious opportunities to take a look at the competition and smell the ideas of others.
For Newey, the first and last of the line-up have equal dignity, because it doesn’t matter if certain inspirations emerge from the machines at the back of the group, perhaps with few resources to evolve them. From the notes in the red notebook, we move on to the hand-drawn sketches, to the drafting machine drawings and only then do his collaborators carry the changes into the world of computers, CFDs and the virtual world. It seems like a long process, whereas in Milton Keynes they move with surprising speed of action.
In the 2023 season we have already seen three different radiator inlet solutions: in Bahrain the cooling system was quite generous in assessing what was the actual heat exchange necessary for the Honda RBPT H001 power unit to avoid reliability problems.
In Melbourne we saw the first upgrade and in Baku there was the second evolution with a reduction in the light of the grip and with the… carbon tray that precedes the actual larger mouth. In Hungary, a demanding track for cooling due to the low average speed which therefore requires a greater air flow, the second update has arrived which is the more extreme one.
Red Bull RB19: The tray has stretched and angled upwards, creating a large undercut under the belly
Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images
The tray is inclined upwards greatly reducing the front section of the air intake: there are two positive effects, firstly the resistance to forward movement has been reduced, secondly Newey has managed to increase the flow which, passing by the lower part of the side, is channeled towards the bottom.
Obviously this novelty is not limited to the redesign of the belly in the front part, but has required a careful study of the fluid dynamics inside the sides, trying to modify the cooling system as little as possible: the radiating masses have remained substantially the same, even if the fittings and ducts are all new to adapt them to the different shapes of the constantly evolving bodywork.
Red Bull RB19: the mirror support also acts as an air conveyor in the mouth of the radiators
Photo by: George Piola
The images of George Piola show us that the stay, as the British call it, i.e. the horizontal carbon support that extends from the passenger compartment to the rear-view mirror (everyone has it, it’s not new of course), takes on a function that is not only structural, but increases its aerodynamic function: being positioned further forward than the leading edge of the radiator mouth, it becomes an effective flow conveyor that pushes clean air, drawn higher up, into the intakes. It is as if Red Bull had simulated a virtual grip without certain drag constraints.
To ensure the necessary heat exchange of the Honda engine, Red Bull has revised the trend of the hot air: in the last few appointments we had seen a RB19 which tended to be very closed with limited vents open in the engine hood.
Red Bull RB19: note the very conspicuous air vents on the sides of the bonnet and on the belly
Photo by: Jon Noble
In Budapest there is a substantial change of philosophy. Newey favors the cleaning and miniaturization of the belly inlet, to increase the pressurization of the flow in the undercut, to the efficiency in the engine cover area, in the belief of obtaining a greater aerodynamic advantage from the revised sidepod.
Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising to see a much more sinuous bodywork appear behind the Halo attachment to the chassis, which hides a passage of hot air that vents into a showy opening with more than ten gills placed right where the flat surface of the bonnet bends downwards in the maximum width.
This configuration, sufficient for the next fast tracks (starting with Spa-Francorchamps scheduled for next week), was not suitable for Hungary: for the slow Magyar track, Red Bull has opened vents to evacuate the hot air above the belly, re-proposing a theme that had disappeared from the concepts of Milton Keynes. It is clear that this is a temporary solution on a system where aerodynamic load matters much more than efficiency. But it is equally clear that for Newey there are no absolute truths, given that solutions that seemed outdated can come back into fashion if necessary…
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