Newey: Red Bull wont have double diffuser before Monaco 21 Apr 2009
Although he was watching the Chinese Grand Prix on television at home in England, Red Bulls chief technical officer Adrian Newey couldnt have been more pleased that his team scored a dominant one-two over the weekend. Newey, however, hasnt had much time to celebrate, as he is currently working flat-out at Red Bulls base, integrating the now legal double-decker diffuser into the RB5. He spoke to the teams press office about the Shanghai win and the challenges that lie ahead
Q: Adrian, a couple of days later, how does it feel?
Adrian Newey: Waking up on a Monday morning with a one-two always puts a smile on your face. The result is a great confidence booster for everyone at the factory, knowing we can put a car on the grid that can finish first and second, and do so from the front, not inheriting the result because of others having problems. It really is a great reward for all the hard work put in not just by ourselves but also by Renault and all our other technical partners.
Q: Where did you watch the race?
AN: I watched it in my kitchen at home, part of the time with my wife Marigold. But she found it too stressful watching with me and went off to another room and later my daughter joined me. Within a few minutes of the finish, our neighbours came round and despite the early hour, we had a celebratory drink. It would have been nice to have been in China, but Im just very pleased for everyone that we got the result we deserved.
Q: With technical problems earlier in the weekend, were you worried the cars might not get to the flag?
AN: We were reasonably confident wed fixed what appeared to be a problem with a batch of drive shaft parts. But you cannot take reliability for granted, so the last half hour of the race seemed to last forever!
Q: How has the RB5 evolved since the start of the season?
AN: We had an aero update, consisting of a new diffuser and modified front wing for the final pre-Melbourne test, which brought a reasonable step in performance. Then, for China we had further new parts that brought a small performance gain. In dry qualifying, we were behind the Brawns in Melbourne and Malaysia, but much closer in China, looking at fuel-corrected lap times. Our set-up in China was pretty similar to that in Malaysia, so the rest of the performance might be circuit specific, when you are looking at gaps of just a few tenths, as has been the case between McLaren and Ferrari for example in past years.
Q: The China result came without a double diffuser, so is this issue less important than people think?
AN: There is no doubt that a double diffuser does give performance. How much performance depends on how you interpret the regulations and how you adapt it to suit your own car, so that some teams will get more out of it than others. It is worth doing for everyone on the grid. Our challenge is to adapt one to work on our car.
Q: When will the RB5 appear with a double diffuser?
AN: As has been speculated, given the design of RB5, its not the easiest task getting it to fit the car and while we work on this one item, we also need to keep working on the general development of the car, to ensure we dont fall behind in other areas. The unique feature of the Red Bull cars is the pullrod rear suspension which is a good solution when you dont have a double diffuser. But getting it to work with the diffuser will be more difficult. We wont have a double diffuser before Monaco.
Q: Looking at the first three races, what has struck you about them?
AN: The most obvious change is just how different is the grid order compared to the last few seasons. The big teams like Ferrari, BMW and McLaren are currently on the back foot, but they wont stay there of course. I think thats refreshing and healthy for Formula One. It creates more interest, seeing different teams and drivers at the front.
Q: If this weekend in Bahrain is completely dry, can we expect to see the current series leaders back out in front?
AN: Difficult to know, as circuit specific advantages come into play. From our point of view, we dont really know yet what are the different strengths and weaknesses of our own car compared to those of our competitors at individual tracks.
Q: You mentioned the big teams will fight back. With their greater resources, do you expect them to come steaming past you?
AN: I hope not! With a big regulation change like this, it is an opportunity for teams that have fewer resources, but are intelligent in the way they think about the implication of the regulations and how to implement them, to come up with clever design and a good car. When the regulations are stable for a while then teams with more resources and an ability to evaluate more options then have an advantage. Thats not to say a smaller team couldnt keep its advantage and rules for the future are aimed at restricting development still further in order to reduce the 'arms race' that has characterised F1 over the past few years.
Q: How does this win compare to other significant victories in your career?
AN: The first point to make is that this is not our first win, as Red Bull Technology had a winning car design last year, operated very well by Scuderia Toro Rosso to win in Monza. Emotionally, for everyone here in Milton Keynes, its been extremely pleasing. I was already very excited and happy after Monza last year and this one in China was special because we managed to get a one-two finish and do pretty much the same in qualifying. The other element that makes this win special is that theres been a big regulation change and we have shown that, as a team we have understood that set of rule changes, producing a car that is reasonably well adapted to them right from the start. It makes it extremely satisfying because, with the new rules, we have been working on our own as a group for almost nine months, without really knowing what other teams are doing and not knowing where your product is going to rate when compared to them, as all the reference points and base lines have changed.
Q: But now you have to rethink the design of RB5 to take into account the Paris decision about the diffuser. Do you feel its a shame you have to take a metaphorical hacksaw to your original concept for the car?
AN: It will certainly involve a lot of work! The challenge now is to try and integrate the new diffuser into the rest of the car. But I dont regard it as a shame, I see it as another challenge. Unfortunately, it will involve some more late nights! Thats Formula One: you cant afford to sit around and feel sorry for yourself, you just have to get on with it.