Is Sauber spying on Red Bull or vice versa?

The Red Bull RB9 (above) and the Sauber C32

The Red Bull RB9 (top) and the Sauber C32 (bottom)

Tongue in cheek, a German specialist publication has wondered if there is a Sauber spy in the house at world champions Red Bull or vice versa, as the two teams’ new cars – the C32 and the RB9 – featured a number of remarkable similarities.

Red Bull RB9

Red Bull RB9 Front View

After Swiss team Sauber surprised the world with its ultra-slim sidepods and a half-‘stepped’ nose for its newly launched C32, Auto Motor und Sport‘s Michael Schmidt noticed that Red Bull’s new RB9 – which broke cover on Sunday – “has the same characteristics”.

The report added with a hint of sarcasm, “Last year, we still believed in coincidence. But now it’s getting weird. The new Red Bull RB9 and the Sauber CR2 share at least two distinct pounts: the narrow sidepods and the shape of the nose is very similar in design and concept. Is it because one knows what the other is doing?”

Last year the two teams had similar, although independently conceptualised, solutions for the exhaust restrictions that came into play.

Actually, Red Bull insisted that the RB9 was a simple “evolution” of its title-winning predecessor, while Adrian Newey argued that the whole concept of a ‘new’ car is now outdated.

“It’s a car in transition, as are all the cars – development is key,” he said.

Sauber C32

Sauber C32 Front View

The team insisted one of the biggest changes is the new purple hue to the livery, marking the official beginning of the Infiniti title sponsorship.

In essence, it was difficult for observers at the Milton Keynes launch to make a real assessment – photography was banned, and those in the audience squinted to make out the RB9’s details in the clever lighting before the car was covered up once again.

Newey did reveal that the change in the ‘step’ nose for 2013 is a compromise between the unseemly 2012 rules and the FIA’s allowance of a so-called ‘vanity panel’ this year.

“We have a vanity panel,” he confirmed, “but it doesn’t extend very far forward otherwise it becomes unjustifiable in weight.”

Shortly after the launch, the RB9 was loaded into a transporter bound for Jerez, where Mark Webber will be at the wheel for the opening action on Tuesday. (GMM & Apex)

Subbed by AJN.

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