Adrian Newey made a hasty departure from Jerez when it was evident that the marriage between his latest brainchild and the all new Renault V6 turbo, plus all the hybrid appendages, were akin to fire and ice when all bolted together in the original Red Bull RB10 package – is this his first real flop since the RB3 of 2007?
Reports from Milton Keynes are that the midnight oil is burning brightly at the World Champion team’s factory, in the aftermath of their distrous journey to southern Spain, as Newey and his team race against time to produce the ‘RB10 Plan-B.’
It is no secret that the RB10 is incapable of dealing with the heat being generated by the new Power Units and the gizmos plugged into the new generation cars. Newey’s radical packaging, which includes the long tapered rear-end, is not allowing for the required cooling, creating more issues for the already problematic Renault power plant.
Furthermore the RB10, which has been designed to Newey’s traditional principles of maximum aero efficiency, features electrical cabling solutions which are unconventional to say the least – and here is the crux of the orginal RB10’s failings: how much can can you sacrifice in the search of aerodynamic Valhalla with these new era F1 cars?
Has Newey gone a step too far with his latest creation? Is this the first flop after four years of mega-success for F1’s most esteemed designer?
At this early stage of the game it appears so, hence in Bahrain the RB10 will be hugely revised to accommodate the belligerent requirements of Renault’s RSF1 Power Unit and sacrifice some of the aero to allow for cooling of the unit and sundries.
Make no mistake Newey’s original concept will remain waiting in the wings for better days as the genius is in the detail – under the skin as they say – but meanwhile they need a race car which has to be on the grid by 16 March in Melbourne.
Hence the RB10 Plan-B option, because at the moment the original piece of kit only completed 21 laps in the four days at Jerez – with Sebastian Vettel, not known for his patience when dealing with failure, making an early B-line out of town when it became apparent that things had gone pear shaped. This left the team’s new boy Daniel Ricciardo to soak up the media heat with his ever present good disposition, gushing enthusiastically and claiming that everything will be alright on the night.
The 2014 World Championship will not be won in the first three or four races of the season, and even if this is a flop of a design, it should only be a temporary hitch. If Newey is hurting because his latest ‘baby’ has faltered, rival teams should not be rubbing their hands together in glee, but rather fearing what he will unleash to rectify the problem.
And even if it is late in the season that Newey’s child flourishes, will it be a case of “no problem” because the final round is a double points affair? How ironic it would be if the title is decided in their favour at the Abu Dhabi finale!
However between now and then much depends on what Red Bull delivers in time for Bahrain’s double header testing and beyond that. For now the World Champions start the season on the back foot, defending rather than attacking.
But be assured they will rip through the ‘budget cap and spare little effort to ensure that the RB10’s current shortcomings are a mere blip, soon to be forgotten, and that their ‘RB10 Plan-B’ reaffirms Newey’s grand stature at the peak of the sport.
Anything less then – yes – Newey’s 2014 effort is his first flop since the forgettable RB4 which came after the equally woeful RB3, the two cars collecting a mere two podiums in 35 races and 22 DNFs in the process. (Inside Line by Paul Velasco)
Subbed by AJN.