Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
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Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

Discover the hidden technical secrets of Red Bull’s new RB16

To the untrained eye the RB16 might appear relatively similar last year's car, but further examination proves that Red Bull has been hard at work, not only refining pre-existing concepts but also learning lessons from others and pushing the design envelope even further – as you’d expect from technical team led by Adrian Newey.

Discover the hidden technical secrets of Red Bull’s new RB16

The first thing that draws the eye is the radical new nose solution, which takes inspiration from all corners of the grid and composes them on a scale that only it seems able to achieve... 

Radical nose tip

Red Bull Racing RB16 nose detail

Red Bull Racing RB16 nose detail

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The double open-ended snout is straight from its own playbook, having used a similar design over the last few seasons. This now wider and flatter protrusion no longer extrudes straight upward to the main nosebox though, instead it wears a peaked cap to cast a longer shadow over the front wing’s neutral section below.

The nose tip, now closer to the front wing pillars, is joined via a snowplough device, which will capture the airflow traveling down the centre of the car and funnel it to the awaiting aerodynamic devices downstream.

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Atop the main snout is a narrower ramped section with two inlets of its own, it’s unclear where these will exit at present but suffice to say the air it captures will be repurposed by the designers to improve the cars overall output.

The nose box itself is also much narrower than before, allowing them to install a sizable cape on either side of the structure. The cape draws inspiration from the Mercedes design, with a downturned leading profile capturing the nearby airflow and funneling it down low.

Revised S-duct packaging

Red Bull Racing RB16

Red Bull Racing RB16

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The narrowing of the nosecone has also freed up the design team to revisit their camera pod fixings, using stalks to reposition the cameras in a more aerodynamically prudent area. Naca-style ducts are still present on the side of the nose, albeit reshaped, in order to provide additional flow to the S-duct that exits on the bridge of the nose.

It’s also worth noting the intake scoop that sits beneath the bulkhead, an older Red Bull trick that appears to have resurfaced and will likely provide even more flow via conventional S-shaped internal pipework. The nose/chassis transition has also been softened for 2020, likely due to the repackaging of the inboard suspension elements housed below. 

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Meanwhile, the narrower S-duct inlet first seen in Japan last season is also retained but features further refinement, with a pair of tails seen extruding out from the exit onto the top surface of the chassis, a nod perhaps to the designs seen in the early part of the last decade and a way of better controlling the direction of the airflow that’s ejected.

The horns that were introduced last season and are placed either side of the S-duct also return, as the team looks to minimise losses around the nose/chassis transition.

Squeezed sidepods

Red Bull Racing RB16 detail

Red Bull Racing RB16 detail

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The bargeboard and deflector region is relatively unchanged from a concept point of view, but several necessary adjustments have been made to account for how much smaller and tighter the sidepods are. Not only has the inlet been narrowed, and the letterbox reduced in height, but the undercut also appears to have been shaved back further too. 

The jelly mould-style sidepod contouring remains, but the composition of the packaging within has led to the team altering their shape, drawing the bodywork in even more, resulting in a heavy downwash line being visible that will undoubtedly help with aerodynamic performance.

Fins mounted around halo

Red Bull Racing RB16 detail

Red Bull Racing RB16 detail

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Meanwhile, a trick first seen employed by Marussia sees a small fin placed on top of the cockpit surround, in order to better manage flow off the halo over the sidepod and engine cover bodywork.

Below the oval airbox design, which is a carryover from last season, we can also find another winglet, taking advantage of both the airflow off the halo and the driver's helmet and spoiler.

Rear suspension revised

If you thought the RB16’s nose job was extreme, now we'll take a poke around the team's rear suspension. Giorgio Piola has helped us out in that regard as his first illustration of the RB16 this season focuses on just that... 

Red Bull Racing RB16 rear suspension

Red Bull Racing RB16 rear suspension

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The forwardmost leg of the lower wishbone [1] is particularly high, clearing space for more airflow to make its way into the ‘coke-bottle region’ and further exposes the winglets mounted on the bottom half of the rear brake duct, so they may work the outer section of the floor and diffuser harder.

The lower wishbone is almost sat at the same level as the driveshaft, which itself is enclosed within an aerodynamic fairing [2], with the pair now likely to work much more closely in terms of their aerodynamic performance.

The upper wishbone is also mounted in a higher position, with the upright bracket (3) now held even more aloft than its predecessor was. This, like the adjustment of the lower wishbones position has aerodynamic implications, with a clearer line of sight afforded to the reworked brake duct inlet, winglets and fence.

Tail-end tidy up

Red Bull Racing RB16

Red Bull Racing RB16

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The cooling outlet at the rear of the car seems to be pointed much further down than we’re used to seeing for a Red Bull-designed car too, although this is likely due to both the extremely high-angled rear suspension that’s being employed and a desire to extract flow by means of an aerodynamic link with the floor and diffuser below.

Above this we can see that the team has retained the Mickey Mouse-style exhaust and wastegate solution, with the pair of wastegate pipes tilted upward toward the rear wing.

Interestingly the team has moved to a double rear wing pillar layout for 2020 too, as perhaps we’ll see a more intricate endplate design during the course of testing or in the opening phases of the season.

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Series Formula 1
Author Matthew Somerfield
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