Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
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Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

2019 tech verdict: Red Bull becomes a disruptor with Honda

Join us as we delve into Giorgio Piola’s 2019 archive and bring you insight into the relentless development undertaken by the teams throughout a season in the pursuit of more performance. In today’s gallery we will focus on… Red Bull.

2019 tech verdict: Red Bull becomes a disruptor with Honda

In its first year with Honda power, expectations for 2019 weren’t stellar – even though Helmut Marko claimed it would win five races! In fact, Red Bull Racing won three – all with undisputed lead driver Max Verstappen (Austria, Germany and Brazil) – while Pierre Gasly’s poor form of the first half of the season, which resulted in his demotion to Toro Rosso, meant the team actually just fell short of its 2018 points tally in the constructors’ championship.

With its engine supplier working in harmony, as opposed to the previously often-acrimonious Renault partnership, it allowed the team to focus on beating Mercedes and Ferrari at circuits that truly suited the RB15 – which seemed a tricky chassis to setup and get the most out of, as Gasly found to his cost. Updates certainly helped calm the car’s spikey handling characteristics, although occasional power drops and throttle issues on the engine side didn’t mean it was all plain sailing on that front either.

Click on the arrows on the images below to scroll through them…

Red Bull RB15 bargeboards
Red Bull RB15 bargeboards
1/15
Red Bull was looking for an immediate impact with the Honda-powered RB15 and kicked off its season with some rapid development. This first change to the bargeboard and deflector region saw slots added in the forwardmost element and the rearward element detached from the floor.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull RB15 front wing, Chinese GP
Red Bull RB15 front wing, Chinese GP
2/15
Red Bull chose to place itself firmly at one end of the spectrum when it came to front wing design, opting for a full span configuration which sees the flaps extended to their fullest at the juncture with the endplate.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull Racing RB15 nose detail
Red Bull Racing RB15 nose detail
3/15
Having utilised a ducted nose-tip solution for some time now, the team opted to mix things up for Monaco, and closed off the tip. This likely shaved some weight off the car, making it a little more nimble, while also altering the front wing’s neutral sections aerodynamic response at low speeds.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull RB15 new fins
Red Bull RB15 new fins
4/15
Red Bull always studies the opposition to see what solutions may also work for them and in Canada it decided to join an ever-growing party of teams using fins in the transition zone on the nose. Unlike the simplistic L-shaped appendages seen elsewhere, Red Bull introduced a set of sinuous and complex fins to maximise their effect on the surrounding airflow.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull Racing RB15 mirror
Red Bull Racing RB15 mirror
5/15
Wing mirrors and their mounts have become a design playground in recent years and while the FIA tried to reign in some of these designs with their new rules package, the designers still found ways to circumvent them, perhaps none more so than what Red Bull did.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull Racing RB15, front wing Austrian GP
Red Bull Racing RB15, front wing Austrian GP
6/15
The team made a small alteration to the front wing for the Austrian GP, altering the upper flaps connection with the endplate in order to soften the tip vortex that’s shed.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull Racing RB15, sidepod fins
Red Bull Racing RB15, sidepod fins
7/15
Along the edge of the floor the team added these angled fins, in order that the airflow passing by and through the neighbouring slots was improved too.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull Racing RB15 cooling
Red Bull Racing RB15 cooling
8/15
The upper engine cover chimney is a solution we’ve seen from Mercedes in the past and it appeared at one stage that Red Bull would follow suit in 2019. However, having tested it on several occasions it never raced with it, perhaps using it to relieve stress on the power unit in warmer climbs and in sessions that aren’t competitive.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull Racing RB15 rear wing comparison
Red Bull Racing RB15 rear wing comparison
9/15
You have to love a Red Bull low downforce rear wing – both the solutions used in Spa and Monza respectively are particularly aggressive with as little wing angle used as possible in order to reduce drag for the long straights that are a feature of both circuits.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull RB15 bargeboard comparison, Russian GP
Red Bull RB15 bargeboard comparison, Russian GP
10/15
Red Bull made some small tweaks to the RB15 for the Russian GP which included this change to the leading edge of the bargeboard.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull RB15 front suspension layout
Red Bull RB15 front suspension layout
11/15
A look inside the RB15 and more specifically the front suspension arrangement, complete with the bellville-springed heave damper, a solution it switched back to for 2019.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull Racing RB15, cooling
Red Bull Racing RB15, cooling
12/15
In order to keep things cool in the heat and altitude of the Mexican GP, the team arrived with a new cooling solution that opened up the bodywork around the rear suspension. Also note the single element T-Wing, a novelty in Red Bull circles owing to its ability to get maximum downforce from the normal setup.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull RB15 fins
Red Bull RB15 fins
13/15
In the latter stages of the season Red Bull made a change to its ‘S’-duct outlet, switching the almost full-width exit for this much narrower version, likely causing less disruption to the fins alongside and improving its overall power.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull Racing RB15 front wing detail
Red Bull Racing RB15 front wing detail
14/15
This is the front wing design that Red Bull exclusively throughout 2019, with only a few minor tweaks to the flap and endplate size and shape throughout.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull Racing RB15 front wing detail
Red Bull Racing RB15 front wing detail
15/15
Red Bull used Free Practice sessions at the last few GPs to test out a new front wing concept for 2020. Ultimately, it’s not too different from what it ran throughout 2019, but does give us some idea of the direction that the team might be heading in. It looks set to retain as much of the full-height flap approach, with the major change coming to the shape of the mainplane, as the new design exposes the underside and the strakes to the airflow more than before.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

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