The Renault-powered RB10 is the machine in which Sebastian Vettel will bid for a fifth successive drivers’ title, alongside new team mate Daniel Ricciardo, as Red Bull also aim for a fifth consecutive constructors’ crown.
The Vettel-Red Bull combination dominated last year, winning 13 Grands Prix, including the last nine rounds of the season. Australian Ricciardo joins from sister squad Toro Rosso, replacing compatriot Mark Webber.
The RB10 is the tenth car to be built for F1 competition by Red Bull and is again penned by Adrian Newey. In line with the heavily revised 2014 regulations, it features another unusual nose design with a narrow protruding section at the front. But the biggest challenge, according to Newey, was accommodating the all-new 1.6 litre turbo power unit.
“Whereas the V8s were a very well-known package, with these power units, the engine itself is easy enough to install, but then of course you’ve got the turbocharger, the intercoolers, and the electrical side in terms of the motor generator units and much bigger batteries,” he said.
“Bigger batteries mean bigger conditioning boxes for the batteries and it also means more cooling for those batteries - that means more radiators on top. Roughly speaking the radiator area on the car has doubled from the V8, and that of course is another challenge.
"It's the biggest engine change, without doubt, since the turbos disappeared in the late '80s, arguably much bigger because of the electrical side of it. Renault, our partner, are the big players in terms of the package itself - our job has been to install it in the neatest and most performant way we can.”
Newey said that the team also spent plenty of time considering the aerodynamics at the front of the car in light of the changes to front wing geometry.
“What sounds like a small change - the reduction in width of the front wing by 75mm on each side - has a big aerodynamic affect,” he explained. “Before, the front wing endplate allowed us to divert the flow off the tip of the wing outside the front wheel.
“Now the front wing endplates are right in front of the front wheel - they’re in about the worst possible place; not inside, not outside. That means the majority of the flow now stagnates in front of the front wheel. A little bit (of air flow) finds its way outside and the rest comes inside, and in doing so makes quite a mess of the front wheel wake.
“The combination of front wing and front wheel wake becomes much bigger and that causes all sorts of problems downstream as you approach the sidepod and the diffuser.”
The RB10 begins its first test on Tuesday in the hands of Vettel, with Ricciardo set to get his first taste of his new charge later in the four-day session. Team principal Christian Horner said that what the team will be striving for is reliability.
“In terms of the key elements this year, obviously the engine is going to be a crucial factor - reliability of the power units is going to be critical,” he said. “Obviously whoever has the most powerful, reliable power unit is going to come out on top.
“We’re relying heavily on our engine partners Renault to make sure that we have a power unit that is competitive with our rivals, which we have every confidence they will have provided.”
Despite Red Bull’s domination in recent years, Horner warned that the team will not be taking anything for granted in 2014.
“I think it’s dangerous sometimes to be over confident that you have all the elements in place for the start of any season,” he reasoned.
“We’ve enjoyed great continuity over the last few years - we’ve got a strong driver line-up, we’ve got a strong tech line-up, we’ve got great strength in depth. But you can’t take anything for granted - Formula One, like any sport, can be unpredictable at times.
“The atmosphere in the team is excellent at the moment,” he continued. “We’ve been riding on the crest of a wave over the last four years and there’s a great determination to see that continue into 2014.
“It’s been the most intense winter we’ve ever had - we’ve produced the car in the shortest possible amount of time through the design and manufacturing process. It’s been fantastic to see the team work operating the way it has.”