November 2, 2013

More Red Bull RB9 "Secrets" discovered.

Seems every week there's a new "Secret of Red Bull's performance" discovered.  

Last week it was the expanding tea tray theory from Gary Anderson.  In a nutshell, Newey had figured out how to use the heat from the titanium skid plate fasteners to somehow expand and lower the front "tea tray" and increase efficiency.    Intriguing, especially light of the heat camera pictures everyone saw where the center of the car is glowing as hot as tires.   If there is anything there, the FIA could not prove it,  they conducted a test where they applied heat to the parts and found not deflection.

Today we have Red Bull's "Passive Active Suspension". From Auto Motor und Sport  the theory is that the RB9 uses hydraulically linked suspension to control roll and optimize traction. With this system Red Bull is able to the perfect attitude for the rear wheels giving the RB9 better traction.
Now, FRIC (Front and Rear Interactive Control) suspension have been on the Mercedes for a couple of years and copied by many but, the German paper contends, Newey's team has developed the system to the point where they can emulate what active suspension was able to do using a completely passive system.

Newey himself when asked did not deny, limiting himself to a sibylline "It would be very difficult to achieve that"....  he did not say it could not be done.

The final "secret"  is more involved and I'll try to summarize the excellent piece by Cristiano Spotton.  In essence it has to do with rake, air skirts and the new Pirelli tire.    You all know how the RB9 uses an exaggerated raked stance compared to all other cars, low in the front, high in the rear.   This can only work if you can optimize flows very precisely.   What Red Bull have mastered is how to create thermal "skirts" using exhaust gasses to seal off the side of the diffuser.   Not something unheard of but, once again, executed better than anyone else.  A car with a raked stance like the RB9 will have its aerodynamic center of pressure move forward at slower speeds helping the car turn in  while the opposite happens at high speeds when more pressure on the rear makes the car more stable.

One crucial part of the puzzle has been the change in Pirelli tire construction.  The Kevlar belted tires are stiffer and therefore deform less making them especially suited to the Red Bull's critical setup.

A interesting point was raised about next year's regulations.  This whole "thermal skirts" business is going out the window as cars will all need to have one high central exhaust.   A blank slate in many ways and with that, hope that Red Bull's domination might not be so complete.

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