Το τρίτο -θεωρητικά- κορυφαίο μονοθέσιο και το έκτο συνολικά που βλέπει το φως τής δημοσιότητας είναι η RB9 τής Infiniti Red Bull Racing. Το μονοθέσιο που σχεδίασε ο Adrian Newey και η ομάδα του θα πρέπει να μάχεται και φέτος για τις πρώτες θέσεις, με τον ανταγωνισμό να είναι, λογικά, το ίδιο μεγάλος με πέρυσι.
Από τις πρώτες εικόνες, σε σχέση με την RB8 που είδαμε στον τελευταίο αγώνα τής χρονιάς, στη Βραζιλία, η εμπρός πτέρυγα είναι ίδια, όπως και το ρύγχος, αν εξαιρέσουμε ότι η οπή στο “σκαλοπάτι” δεν υπάρχει πια. Ωστόσο, στο πίσω μέρος του σκαλοπατιού υπάρχει κάποιο άνοιγμά, μα δεν μπορούμε να γνωρίζουμε από πού μπαίνει ο αέρας για να βγει από τη σχισμή εκείνη· ίσως από το κάτω μέρος. Τα sidepods δείχνουν να έχουν λίγο μικρότερο μέγεθος σε σχέση με πέρυσι, όμως τα pod wings είναι ίδια και συνδέονται και πάλι με τα sidepods, ώστε να υπάρχει καλύτερη ροή αέρα προς το πίσω μέρος, κάνοντας τη διάταξη των εξατμίσεων να δουλεύει με καλύτερο και πιο αποτελεσματικό τρόπο.
Μιας και αναφέρθηκα στις εξατμίσεις, η διάταξη δε φαίνεται να έχει αλλάξει σε σχέση με τους περσινούς τελευταίους αγώνες, αν και το μικρό “τούνελ” που οδηγούσε τον αέρα στο επάνω μέρος τού διαχύτη έχει γίνει λίγο μικρότερο. Το κάλυμμα του κινητήρα δείχνει να μην έχει αλλάξει, όπως και η κύρια οπή πάνω από το κεφάλι του οδηγού για την ψύξη του κινητήρα. Μια αλλαγή που εντοπίζεται στην περιοχή εκείνη είναι το μέγεθος της δευτερεύουσας οπής ακριβώς πίσω από το κεφάλι του οδηγού και κάτω από την κυρία οπή, καθώς έχει γίνει μεγαλύτερη σε σχέση με πέρυσι. Επιπλέον, μια πολύ μικρή αλλαγή υπάρχει και στα barge board, με το επάνω μέρος να είναι λίγο “σπασμένο” και “στραβωμένο” προς τα έξω, προκειμένου να περνά περισσότερος αέρας από το εσωτερικό τμήμα.
Οι εισαγωγές αέρα για τα ψυγεία είναι λίγο μικρότερες απ’ αυτές της RB8, ενώ οι καθρέπτες και οι οδηγοί αέρα στο πίσω μέρος πάνω από τις εισαγωγές για τα ψυγεία δεν έχουν αλλάξει, επίσης. Προς το παρόν, καμία αλλαγή δεν υπάρχει στην πίσω πτέρυγα, αλλά και στη διάταξη των αναρτήσεων, καθώς είναι pull-rod πίσω και push-rod μπροστά, εν αντιθέσει με τις pull-rod εμπρός αναρτήσεις των Ferrari F138 και McLaren MP4-28.
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[Πηγή: Infiniti Red Bull Racing]
Today in Milton Keynes Infiniti Red Bull Racing launched the RB9, setting in motion the defence of its Formula One Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship titles.
In front of an audience of team members, partners, international media and competition winners, drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber drew back the sheet to reveal the car, the final instalment in a generation of designs that so far have delivered 34 grand prix victories and six World Championships.
Mark and Sebastian were joined on stage by team principal Christian Horner, chief technical officer Adrian Newey and Simon Sproule, corporate vice president, global marketing communications of new title partner Infiniti.
Despite the largely unchanged nature of the technical regulations for 2013, Adrian Newey explained the off-season has been far from relaxed. “It’s a tribute to all the hard work of the guys over the winter because we had a very tight championship battle last year,” he said. “It was difficult trying to continue development of last year’s car while also doing research into the RB9. Obviously it worked for us, but it gave us a very tight timeframe to design and manufacture this car.
“RB9 is an evolutionary car,” he added. “Probably the most significant change is not the regulations, but the new Pirelli tyres. We had a quick test with those in practice ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix but in truth we didn’t learn a lot because of the conditions. Pirelli have supplied us data about how the new tyres behave but past experience tells us it’s only when we go testing that we really find out.”
The continuity in Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s driver line-up for 2013 is much more straightforward. Sebastian is beginning his fifth year with the team, while this will be Mark’s seventh, they are the longest-established team-driver combination on the 2013 grid.
“The fact that this is my seventh season with the team is a massive advantage,” said Mark. “I couldn’t have envisaged it when I joined and it’s hard to believe that you could be with the same Formula One team for seven years, as continuity is not always easy to achieve in this sport.”
“I think the way we keep people excited and motivated here is important,” he added. “It’s quite a small operation, but obviously we’re big on ambition and desire and that makes us perform very well. I’ve really enjoyed the years I’ve had here so far and I can’t wait to get going this season.”
After a thrilling climax to the 2012 season which saw Sebastian claim his third title in as many years, the sport’s youngest ever triple world champion has had the opportunity to recharge his batteries over the last two months and professed himself more than ready to begin the task of trying to win a fourth straight title, something done only twice before in the history of the sport.
“We had a very strong finish last season, but it was hard as the season was so long – it was important for me to enjoy being home,” he said. “Pretty soon though I started training again, preparing for the new season and I’m very excited because this is the first time I’ve seen the car in one piece. I’ve seen little bits, but it looks very nice, so now we’ll get to see if it works as expected. I’m excited to get going again, to get back in the car, start testing and then go racing. Then, we’ll finally find out where we are.”
As the team heads into the new season, Christian Horner took the opportunity to emphasise the value of stability. “The 2012 season was tough and long, but our success was testimony to all the hard work and dedication in the factory,” he said. “We’re fortunate that we’ve been able to maintain continuity within our group. This is the fifth year that this driver pairing has been together. We’ve got continuity throughout all of the technical teams and all the key areas. I think that’s proof that there is a fierce determination to keep both of those trophies in the cabinet for another year.”
The team departs for southern Spain this evening, with testing of the RB9 due to commence in on Tuesday. Mark will give the car its track debut, driving on Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th February, with Sebastian taking over for the final two days, on Thursday 7th and Friday 8th February.
<strong>Δηλώσεις Sebastian Vettel</strong>
Nice to see you Seb. You’ve kept a pretty low profile over the off-season. What did you get up to and are you ready for the new campaign? The winter was pretty quiet. Last season was a long one, with a lot of travelling, especially at the end when we had quite a few back-to-back races. We had a very strong finish last season, but it was a tough challenge, so it was important for me to enjoy some time at home doing other things – some DIY, stuff that there was never time to fix during the season. I enjoyed that. It was good to relax and chill out for a while but pretty soon I started training again, preparing for the new season and I’m very excited today because this is the first time I’ve seen the car in one piece. I’ve seen little bits, but it looks very nice seeing it all together. Now we’ll get to see if it works as expected. I’m excited to get going again, to get back in the car, start testing and then go racing. Then, we’ll finally find out where we are.
DIY? With a paint brush, hammer and nails, etc? Err… a little bit. I don’t want to go into too many details. Just some stuff that was lying around for the whole year and I eventually got around to it.
Moving on… let’s look at the season ahead. How do you see the pecking order? Although we have had great success, a new season is a clean sheet, with new car. It all starts again from zero; we all have the same chance. It will be another long year, with a lot of races, and a very tough challenge awaits us all. I’m looking forward to that. We’ve achieved a lot but I’m not really thinking about that, as it doesn’t give us a head start or anything. If anything it just adds to people’s expectations. But that’s the same for all of us – we expect a lot of ourselves too. So, I’m excited about it – the challenge, the racing, all of it
Is a fourth title possible? It would be a landmark achievement. This is what I’m talking about. Mark will start in the car next week and I’m sure he’ll start very strongly. I’ll obviously try to continue where he leaves off but it will be tough. It will be tough to beat Mark and it will also be tough to beat the other teams. There’s no guarantee. You really have to focus on every single race, every single lap and try to get everything together. As soon as you have the helmet on, you want to perform and you want to do your best.
<strong>Δηλώσεις Mark Webber</strong>
Mark, how was the winter – or the summer in your case? Are you rested and ready to go? Yeah, I’ve had a good break. Last year we had a very long season, it felt like we finished at Christmas! I’ve had a decent rest but also some minor surgery on my leg that went very well, and now I’m ready to go. It’s certainly exciting to see the car for the first time and I can’t wait to get in on Tuesday.
This is your seventh year with the team, the longest driver-team partnership in F1 this year. Does that continuity help you? The fact that this is my seventh season with the team is a massive advantage. I couldn’t have envisaged it when I joined because it’s hard to believe that you could be with the same Formula One team for seven years. Continuity is not always easy to achieve in this sport. I think the way we keep people excited and motivated here is important. It’s quite a small operation, but obviously we’re big on ambition and desire and that makes us perform very well. I’ve really enjoyed the years I’ve had here so far and I can’t wait to get going this season.
One change you do have for this year is a new race engineer. How will that work? That’s right. Ciaran Pilbeam has moved on to another team after a long time with us and I have a new race engineer in Simon Rennie. I’m looking forward to us working together. Of course it’s a different role for me to have someone fresh into the team and different for him too, as he has to get used to the way we go about our work. But Simon’s an incredibly experienced race engineer, he’s worked with some great drivers, and is more than capable of doing the job and having us go out there and win grands prix.
You’ll be the first driver to test the RB9. What are you looking for in those first few laps? I’ve been strapped into Adrian’s cars for quite a while now, so I know I can trust the car to do what it’s supposed to do. My job in Jerez will be to look for areas where we can improve the car and try to understand what it might need. Winter testing is very different to racing: next week is all about gathering data. We’ll be keeping the car circulating as much as we can, there will be really long hours in the garage for all the guys but we’re looking forward to getting out there and collecting as much information as we can.
<strong>Δηλώσεις Christian Horner</strong>
Christian, your first thoughts on the RB9? It’s fantastic to see the car as such a huge amount of effort has gone into producing it. It also marks a new beginning for us: it’s our ninth car but we’re introducing Infiniti as our title partner, so the livery is strikingly different. Hopefully it’s going to look pretty striking on track as well.
Can Infiniti Red Bull Racing make it four championships in a row? It’s going to be tough because the competition is certainly phenomenal – but that is what has made the things we’ve achieved over the last three years even more rewarding. To have won three-in-a-row in both Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships is quite remarkable. The 2012 season was tough and long, but our success was testimony to all the hard work and dedication in the factory. We’re fortunate that we’ve been able to maintain continuity within our group. This is the fifth year that this driver pairing has been together. We’ve got continuity throughout the technical teams and in all the key areas. I think that’s proof that there’s a fierce determination to keep both of those trophies in the cabinet for another year.
How have you managed to keep the team together for so long – presumably their skills are very much in demand elsewhere? I think people enjoy working in the team, they feel part of it, so there’s a good team spirit and strong desire to continue what we have. Added to the long relationships we have with our partners and sponsors it gives us a very stable foundation on which to build. The way we work is open and transparent. We concentrate on being a Formula One team and nothing more. Our focus is very much on going racing and trying to get the best out of ourselves. Even when we’ve had very good weekends – and very good years – we know there are always areas in which we can make improvements.
<strong>Δηλώσεις Adrian Newey</strong>
Adrian, are you proud of the work you’ve done on the RB9? We are. It’s a tribute to all the hard work of the guys over the winter because we had a very tight championship battle last year. It was difficult trying to continue development of last year’s car while also doing research into the RB9. Obviously it worked for us, but it gave us a very tight timeframe to design and manufacture this car. To have it here today, two days before the first test, I think is an absolutely remarkable achievement by the guys.
What’s changed between 2012’s RB8 and the new RB9? RB9 is an evolutionary car. Probably the most significant change is not the regulations, but the new Pirelli tyres. We had a quick test with those in practice ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix but in truth we didn’t learn a lot because of the conditions. Pirelli have supplied us data about how the new tyres behave but past experience tells us it’s only when we go testing that we really find out.
Where has the design department concentrated its attention? Because the regulations haven’t altered greatly it’s been a question of refining RB8. The front wing stiffness test has been made harsher, making compliance difficult in terms of how stiff the wing has to be, but the rest of the car is very much an evolution. All the principles are the same as last year’s car but hopefully evolved somewhat.
Where do you think the biggest steps forward have been taken? It’s all in the details rather than saying the gains are in this or that. We’ve tidied up some bits we thought could be improved upon – but as is usual these days, this is a car in transition. There will be one or two new parts appearing by the first race, which I’m sure is the same for everybody. After that it’s going to be about development through the year.
Development through the year has been a key factor in recent seasons – where do you think the significant battlegrounds will be in 2013? I think continuing to develop an understanding of the tyres will be crucial. Every time we thought we understood them last year, some fresh surprise would come up and we would realise our understanding wasn’t complete. There is a change to the tyres this year, so I think that will be a huge learning area. The rest I’m sure will be detailed evolution of the aerodynamics and trying to tune the car to the drivers’ liking.
The RB9 keeps the stepped nose of last year. Was there any thought given to fitting the optional ‘vanity panel’? There is a vanity panel but it’s quite small. It doesn’t extend a huge way forward because that would add unjustifiable weight. Last year we had a letterbox design to reduce the step, which aided cooling. This year the small vanity panel has allowed us to get rid of that.
What’s your gut-feeling about the RB9, will it be as successful as its predecessors? I always find that an incredibly hard question to answer. Our simulation results tell us we’ve taken a step forward – but we don’t know what everybody else has done. We don’t know how big a step forward they’ve taken. Then there’s the nature of simulation: almost by definition simulated results aren’t 100 per cent accurate. Sometimes errors can be positive – rarely in my experience – and other times you have problems where what you predict in the wind tunnel doesn’t bear out on track. We have to wait and see.
Beyond that, F1 over the last decade has really been characterised by the rate of development through the year. It used to be that if you came out with a dominant car at the start of the year, so long as that car was reliable, you would probably win the championship. That’s not the case anymore: teams will come back, they can out-develop other teams. It really is continual development now.
How much development attention will the RB9 receive? Is the 2014 car on your radar already? It is and I think that is a real battle for all the teams. We’ve all got limited resources, so we can’t do everything. How you allocate between this year and the very burdening reality of 2014 requires some difficult decisions. We’ve got heads of department Rob Marshall [chief designer], Peter Prodromou [head of aerodynamics] and Mark Ellis [chief engineer – vehicle dynamics] wearing two hats now: overseeing 2014 but also all putting effort into 2013. It’s a difficult balance and one each team will handle it differently, probably depending on how their 2013 championship is going. The teams that feel they’re in with a chance this year will keep pushing, those that have their future secure but aren’t in a title fight will probably switch their efforts earlier.