The Team, Personnel and Facilities
Red Bull's roots in F1 can be traced back much earlier than it's team ownership with the brand using F1 as a platform to advertise it's energy drink as far back as 1995, with it's logo's adorning the Sauber C14. The partnership continued through until 2005 when Dietrich Mateschitz elected to purchase the Jaguar Racing outfit from Ford (The team was purchased toward the end of 2004) and use F1 as a vehicle for further enforcing their brand globally.
Above: The Sauber C14 featured Red Bull livery in 1995 and continued to do so through until the C23 of 2004
It was the core values of understanding that you need the right people around you that Christian had forged in F3000 that I believe bought him to Red Bull's attention. His ability to spot and nurture talent was also important to a Red Bull brand that also thrives on it's youthful outlook. Christian's own youthful exuberance would form the basis for the direction the team would take, allowing a relaxed but pragmatic environment in which the talent they already had and would entice could thrive.
Christian has continued his work with Arden International in combination with his Red Bull endeavours, even though Arden has failed to replicate the Championship winning years they do provide a platform for young drivers to ascend to F1. Having seen 6 of their drivers already reach F1 (Liuzzi, Kovalainen, Bruno Senna, Buemi, Perez and Pic) they are still nurturing talent through their GP2, GP3 and Formula Renault 3.5 programmes. The GP3 team is MW Arden born from the connection with Red Bull's senior driver: Mark Webber fortifying the brand and giving another avenue in which to groom talent. For 2012 Arden collaborated with Caterham competing in the World Series by Renault allowing Caterham's American driver Alexander Rossi a seat and the other shared initially with Lewis Williamson (who moved to GP3 with Status Grand Prix to complete the season) and latterly a driver from the Red Bull young driver programme that we should all watch with serious intent: Antonio Felix Da Costa.
Da Costa has impressed this season in WSR taking 4 victories and 166 points leaving him only 23 points short of Robert Frijns who won the Championship. Bear in mind however that he missed the first 5 races whilst Williamson deputised, he also went on to victory at the Macau Grand Prix taking pole and leading every lap of the race. All of this whilst taking 3rd place in the GP3 championship for Carlin and taking 3 victories throughout the season. I personally see the young Portugese driver taking charge of a Toro Rosso at some point throughout the 2013 season as a taster to his possible progression to a Red Bull Racing seat going forward. Da Costa got a taste of F1 when he piloted the RB8 at the Abu Dhabi Young Drivers test late in 2012 season.
With Horner at the helm Red Bull turned their attentions to providing him with the personnel needed to elevate the team to the top ranks. Top of their shopping list was McLaren's Chief Designer, Adrian Newey who the previous owners Jaguar had also courted early in their gestation period. Newey's achievments speak for themselves having had success throughout the 90's with both Williams and McLaren. Newey penned cars took the Constructors Championships for Williams through 92-97 with 95 being the only blotch in an otherwise dominant period. In 1998 he won a further Constructor's title with McLaren and although the MP4/14 of 1999 was clearly aerodynamically superior to the rest of the field a string of retirements for David Coulthard meant that only the drivers title went to Mika Hakkinen / McLaren that year. As F1 moved into the next decade Ferrari became a dominant force with Schumacher at the helm of the Scarlet red machines. Adrian's appointment at Red Bull in 2005 marked the teams desire to succeed at the highest level and would lead to further success for Newey when the rules drifted to his arena in 2009.
Geoff Willis spent a short period with the team during 2007-2009 as Technical Director once again reprising a relationship that had seen him work with Newey at both Leyton House and Williams.
Red Bull realised to be successful in F1 that personnel was not the only requirement and Red Bull would need to invest in high end technologies. Over the past 8 years the team have amassed an arsenal of equipment and facilities whilst building relationships with companies that wish to drive their own products/brands forward. This appears to be part of Red Bull's success with them working in partnership with their suppliers allowing each other to understand the processes involved so that both may benefit.
Part of the initial purchase from Jaguar Racing included a Wind Tunnel facility that Ford had purchased back in 2003 and had set the task of refurbishing. The tunnel dated back to the 1940's and was initially used by the MOD to develop aircraft and had also been used to develop Concorde, the upgrade to the facility took 2 years including the installation of a rolling road bringing the facility inline with some of the top tier teams. The tunnel is full scale and although the regulations now limit models to 60% they could initially use the full capabilities when the tunnel was completed. All F1 teams are notoriously secretive about the inner workings of their Wind Tunnel facilities and only a handful of video's/images show what lies inside. I'll talk about their previous Wind Tunnel facilities at Bicester a little later in the article. The Wind Tunnel however is just one of the tools required by a contemporary F1 team to use and is perhaps where Red Bull's investment paid off at a time when F1 was moving from track testing to simulation in order to fulfill the budgetary requirements.
Remarking on the changes invoked from the Jaguar days Christian has had this to say: 'We set clear goals in each area and matched those objectives by investing in the facility, in tools or in personnel. It is absolutely true to say that a totally different culture exists today.”
Just as important as the real world environment of the Wind Tunnel is CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) this is a process that allows the designers to test the fluidic nature of their CAD models. The process can be used as a first step to realising the advantages or flaws to a given design without the intrinsic costs of actually building the part(s). This saves time, materials and inevitably cost as many iterations of the same model can be tested for validity before processing the part(s) for manufacturing and testing. Just as in the real world Wind Tunnel CFD affords the team the options of straightline testing or testing cornering / braking. The latter of course will yield a far more complicated result and so the time in which this is achieved is also raised.
In order to fulfill the needs of the team their own in house computing cluster uses hardware from HP and IBM. All F1 teams are tight lipped about the power they have at hand in terms of computing power but the FOTA RRA was initially designed to limit the Teraflops available in a cluster to the teams (A Teraflop is 1 trillion floating point calculations a second) the FOTA agreed limit isn't available on the open market but I believe it to be between 60-80 teraflops. Of course as with everything the engineers are always wanting more power and so in 2006 they formed an alliance with Platform Computing in order to help streamline their processes. Platforms load sharing facilty schedules workloads and proportions resources to prioritise the needs of the team. As we all know both Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso are no longer part of the association and so can live outside of their rules. (This doesn't mean to say they are but it is possible).
The process of transferring the CAD data to CFD can be a time consuming matter with the process of meshing the model for CFD usage taking huge quantities of time. Red Bull have a partnership with ANSYS and use their Fluent package to run CFD allowing the team to use Immersed Boundary Methods (IBM) which takes a short cut to the production of the final CFD model. IBM fills the gaps from the CAD model with an accurate representation of the final structure allowing the designers to model and run more CAD/CFD projects in a short time frame. All of this would not be possible without the high performance computing platform that Red Bull have access to utilising Siemens NX software. The NX software covers CAD/CAE/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Engineering/Computer Aided Manufacturing). CAD allows the designer an environment in which to build a representation of the part. CAE allows the part to be virtually tested for vulnerability, testing it's capacity to take stress under load or vibration. CAM takes care of the manufacturing element of the part giving the information to a plethora of in house CNC machines that produce the parts.
3D printing (Via 3D Systems) has now become an integral part of developing an F1 car, leading to both reduced lead times, cost reduction but most importantly the construction of previously un-manufacturable components/parts. The ethos is not new and has been used in F1 since the late 90's, but as time has marched on the processes have become more intricate and rewarding. In a world where the margin between a winning car and a losing one are so small this process helps to bridge a gap. Working from CAD a team can print parts at a alarming rate allowing them to be tested in the real world environment. Furthermore many of the none structural components of the full scale car are also manufactured in this way allowing many permutations to be used at the track. The team also use 3D printing in order to produce casts that are used in the production of Gearboxes and so forth. Due to the way in which 3D printing uses the materials any products that do not meet the requirements of the team can be destroyed and around 80% of the raw material re-used.
Their association with Hexagon Metrology affords the team highly precise 3D scanning capabilities through the use of ROMER Absolute Arms which mated with their CMS108 Laser Line Scanner allows time to be spent productively elsewhere. This allows vast quantities of parts to be checked against their original CAD designs for imperfections in a timely fashion. The Arm is also none intrusive, scanning the part(s) without contact meaning it doesn't deform under load allowing for a more accurate result.
With hand held measuring tools from Leica the team are able to accurately measure dimensions to a level that seems intangible. This bears fruit when we bear in mind that Red Bull use the tool across the whole platform and in combination with the likes of the products mentioned above from design, to scale modelling to full production. (Case Study on the use of Leica products by RBR - http://metrology.leica-geosystems.com/downloads123/m1/metrology/general/case%20studies/Red%20Bull%20Racing_Milton%20Keynes_CS_en.pdf )
Testing parts on the scale and full car are still a worthy variable to have at a teams disposal and so the use of a 7 post rig is used in order to evaluate the car as a whole. The test rig uses hydraulic actuators in order to put the car under load, this movement exerted on the car can show any weaknesses that may scupper performance. As with the driver simulator it is possible to use data collected from the circuit to create an environment that the car will be placed in.
Another area of crucial investment from Red Bull Technology has been the driving simulator, it's nothing like being sat in front of your xbox with a steering wheel as the drivers are seated in a full blown Red Bull Chassis. All of the controls mimic those on the current car to allow the driver to train like he would at the real circuit. Data that the teams have collected in the past or during a current race weekend can also be used in the simulator in order to extract more performance through setup. Teams use their simulators during race weekends in order to assist the team at the circuit make informed choices and/or strategy calls. The Chassis is mounted to a 6 post rig that is actuated to simulate the effects felt when on track, with a 180 degree field of vision further immerses the driver in the experience. Data extracted from the track before has been used to accentuate the depth of the experience. This is also a great place for driver assessment as data can be shown to the them in order for them to adjust their approach. It also allows for the drivers to be pooled together and assessed for their own strengths and weaknesses, a vital tool when selecting new drivers with limited on track testing.
2005 - RB1
2005 saw regulations alter the racing with the drivers only allowed a singular set of tyres for both qualifying and the race. The impact of this would be far reaching and require not only great skill on behalf of the driver but careful aerodynamic and mechanical planning in order to extract performance and life from the grooved Michelin / Bridgestone tyres. The technical story of the year (and 2006) was Renault's Mass Damper: housed in the nosecone it allowed the team to alter the way in which the aerodynamic platform of the car behaved. Attenuating the Suspension and Front Wing it allowed the car to behave much more sure footedly giving a better contact patch for the Front tyres thus extracting better performance over a larger timeframe.
Above: The RB1 at pre season testing in Jerez
If I were to compare the RB1 aerodynamically to the Renualt (R25) and McLaren (MP4-20) of the time we can see that the RB1 featured little Sidepod undercut. Although they had Aero appendages sprouting from the rear of the Sidepod to help control the rear wheel airflow they weren't as refined as their opposition. The likes of Renault and McLaren were using multi element sections in order to make those regions more efficient.
Above: The Renault R25 from 2005
Above: The McLaren MP4-20
The regulations of that year had forced the designers to raise the Front Wing giving the impression the Wing had sagged in the centre. At the rear of the car we can see that the RB1's Rear Wing lacked the design prowess of it's more equipped rivals with the Red Bull team sporting a far less complex design.
The teams aerodynamic deficiencies didn't however stop them from producing some great performances. Coulthard notched up two fourth place finishes and tallied a total of 24 points throughout the season meanwhile Klein and Luizzi in combination managed a further 10 points.
Above: The team made incremental updates to the RB1 throughout 2005 with the largest upgrade arriving later on in the season at Hungary where they slimmed the rear bodywork and added a Shark Fin to the rear of the Engine Cover
2006 - RB2
For 2006 Red Bull further increased their presence within F1 when they purchased the Minardi team renaming the team Toro Rosso. For 2006 a switch would be made from V10's to V8's in order to reduce the power output being created by the teams. Minardi had already come to an arrangement with the FIA to continue using the Cosworth V10 for 2006 but in a more restricted capacity. This allowed the Toro Rosso team to simply use the RB1 chassis design reducing costs across the board for Red Bull. Red Bull Racing meanwhile made the switch to V8's with the assistance of Ferrari power. The RB2 replaced it's 2 tier Front Wing with a 3 tier one and altered the design of the Rear Wing for more efficiency. A much bulkier nosecone donned the RB2 than that of the R26 or MP4-21.
Above: Kimi Raikonnen at the wheel of his McLaren MP4-21
Above: Renault's 2006 challenger the R26
The R26 featured Front Wing cascades as the teams realised the need to control the airflow up and around the front wheel/tyre. Meanwhile Ferrari adopted Bridge Cascades across the width of the Front Wing in order to better alter the airflow over the rest of the car.
Above: Michael Schumacher driving the Ferrari 248F1
Like the Renault team Red Bull adopted a V Keel on the front of their 2006 challenger in order to allow good adjustability whilst maintaining an aerodynamic advantage. The flexibility of some of the front teams Rear Wing planes were bought into question early on in the season and the FIA stepped in at San Marino adjusting the vertical load tests. The idea behind the flexing rear wing was to allow the gap between the top and mainplane to be reduced resulting in the Wing stalling and reducing drag for a higher top speed.
The complexity of the rear bodywork on the RB2 failed to match that of their rivals and with reliability issues from poor cooling of the Ferrari engine the team failed to match the points haul of 2005. The team abandoned the development of the RB2 early into it's lifespan with the imminent arrival of Adrian Newey from McLaren tasked with designing the RB3. David Coulthard once again produced the best results from the RB2 with the Scot even driving to a podium finish at Monaco.
2007 - RB3
Above: Mark Webber negotiates the streets of Monaco in his RB3
2007 saw a singular supply of tyres via Bridgstone as Michelin departed the sport, this also bought rise to the 2 compound rule that we still have today. In order to drive down ever increasing demands on engine suppliers to build superior engines the FIA also introduced the engine freeze (Homologation). Steps were also taken to reduce spend on track testing with a 30,000 km limit placed on teams testing throughout the season.
Red Bull took Mark Webber as their other driver for the 07 campaign, the Australian driver returning to the team having previously driven for the then Jaguar. Meanwhile Antonio Liuzzi would line up for the sister team Toro Rosso, accompanied by the US driver Scott Speed.
Red Bull Racing's contract with Ferrari for supply of their V8 engines was also moved to the Toro Rosso team as Red Bull ushered in Renault engines.
Controversy surrounded the two Red Bull teams throughout 2007 as many teams (led by Spyker) argued that the RB3 and STR2 were essentially the same car. Red Bull Technology had produced both chassis for the teams and although the designs were intrinsically the same there were nuances that made them differ. Chiefly the aforementioned difference in engine supply which would make for subtle differences to not only power but weight and cooling requirements.
This was to be the start of Red Bull's ascendence to F1 notoriety and marked a distinct difference in approach to the other leading teams. Scuderia Toro Rosso could be used as not only a test bed for future talent from their young driver programme but also allowed the design team to try/test more components over a wider spectrum.
Both the RB3 & STR2 featured much deeper Sidepod undercuts and sported the half moon Sidepod airflow conditioners that had featured on the BAR throughout 2006. Both cars seemed infinitely more shrink wrapped than their predecessors and featured more intricate rear end aero 'flip ups'. This signaled the influence of Adrian Newey as he bought his expertise to the Red Bull Technology setup. Red Bull Technologies Achilles heal for 2007 was their seamless shift gearbox mated to both cars, fraught with problems throughout the season for both teams it was the cause of many DNF's.
Red Bull and Toro Rosso concluded the season in 5th and 7th respectively but the largest ray of hope for the outfit was the young German, Sebastian Vettel. Seb had been BMW's test driver during the 2006 season and had impressed when being placed behind the wheel in testing. He got his F1 debut at the US Grand Prix replacing the injured Kubica and became the youngest driver to score points in F1 taking 8th place for 1 point. He was released by BMW in order to take a drive with Toro Rosso but struggled through the first few races as he adapted to the STR2. However in a rain hit race at Fuji he would find himself in 3rd place behind Lewis Hamilton's McLaren and the sister car of Mark Webber. This was however not to be his crowning glory as under safety car conditions the young German made a mistake and rear ended Webber. Angered by Seb's inexperience Mark gave an interview to ITV stating: "It's kids isn't it... kids with not enough experience – you do a good job and then they fuck it all up."
The mistake was fairly costly for Red Bull in general and although the extra 8 points for Webber wouldn't have been enough for them to leapfrog Williams the same couldn't be said for Toro Rosso who with another 6 points would have jumped ahead of Toyota.
Unfazed by the media furore that would follow Vettel produced another emphatic performance in China scoring 4th place with his team mate Liuzzi also scoring points just behind in 6th.
2008 - RB4
The RB4 showed the further reaching grasp of Adrian Newey over the Red Bull project with the car sporting a much lower Sidepod and the engine cover encapsulating the components much tighter. The RB4 arrived at testing with a Shark Fin engine cover something that the other teams duly noted and went off to produce their own iterations in order to enhance their packages. The team now with a year shod on the Bridgstone tyres perhaps had a better grasp of the task at hand in regard to their aero influence too. The usual in season updates occurred with the likes of a perforated 'Bridge Wing' that featured slots at it's outer extremities to boost it's effectiveness and helped to flex the Front Wing assembly. This lead to the legality of flexing Front Wings being bought into question with the FIA who duly adjusted their stance and the teams rectified their designs. To cope with the regulation changes Red Bull altered the central portion of the Bridge Wing in order to add rigidity and then latterly altered the Endplate Horizontal blades and added additional vertical turning vanes underneath the Mainplane.
At the start of 08 BMW Sauber had introduced Nosecone Winglets which helped to manage and vorticise the airflow downstream. Red Bull added their own appendages in this region later on in the season at the Inaugural Singapore night race.
Mark Webber outscored his more seasoned colleague throughout the season but it was Coulthard who had the best result of the season taking the podium and 3rd place at Montreal.
Above: Sebastian Vettel drives his STR3 through the tunnel in Monaco
Meanwhile over on the Toro Rosso side of the fence the team started their 2008 campaign with a B spec STR2 with the STR3 not being competitively ready until round 6 in Monaco. This led to a poor start to the season with the only points being scored by the newly appointed Sebastian Bourdais at Australia. Sebastian Vettel was a revelation in the 2008 season scoring 35 of the 39 points accumulated by the Toro Rosso team. The crowing glory however came in Monza when Vettel and the team beat the odds to score Red Bull's first victory in F1 ahead of their lead team.
In Part 2 I look at 2009 through until 2012 the years that have defined Red Bull Racing as a force to be reckoned with within F1. However as we have learnt above every story must have a beginning and although the results didn't always meet their ambitions in the formative years it put them in good stead for what lay ahead.