SportF1This is the Red Bull F1 design that allows...

This is the Red Bull F1 design that allows it to dominate in 2022

The most remarkable thing about Red Bull is that it did not start the year as the fastest car, but instead had to struggle to overtake Ferrari’s F1-75 .

There is no magic formula that explains why the RB18 has proven to be so effective under the current regulations . It’s a combination of factors – some designed from the ground up and some that have been developed – working in unison to create a brilliant package.

Let’s look at some of the interesting features of the RB18, some of which are unique and some of which have been copied by other teams.

The suspension of the Red Bull RB18 in F1 2022

Red Bull was the author of the paradigm when it comes to the suspension structure, and set the tone between 2009 and 2021.

From the RB5, the team adopted a pull-rod rear suspension and push-rod suspension at the front . It was considered to be the best option in terms of aerodynamics, under that particular set of rules, as all teams agreed.

However, there were a few exceptions, as the drawbar option on the front axle was also tested.

After considering the impact of suspension on the new 2022 cars, Red Bull changed the script for 2022, opting for a push-rod arrangement at the rear, leaving more room for the enlarged diffuser , and a pull-rod at the rear. front of the RB18.

Red Bull Racing RB18 front suspension

Red Bull Racing RB18 front suspension

Photo: Giorgio Piola

The other interesting feature in terms of the RB18’s front suspension design is that the team is still using a single-element fork , although this year it is applied to the upper arm, the most forward, as the setup has been reversed from the previous one. above (inset on the left).

As part of the retrofit efforts for 2022, the steering assembly, which for the last two seasons had been buried in the chassis, has been returned to its natural habitat at the front of the nose.

The keel of the Red Bull RB18 in F1 2022

As for the spring elements, it is worth highlighting the arrangement used to add some solidity to the front area of the car.

In Red Bull’s case, a Belleville spring is used , while other teams have gone with other options – such as a shock absorber, coil spring or leaf spring – with varying degrees of effectiveness.

Red Bull Racing RB18 splitter detail

Detalle del splitter del Red Bull Racing RB18

Foto: Giorgio Piola

The use of a Belleville spring arrangement not only allows for a compact installation, but also reduces vibrations, making it one of the possible factors behind Red Bull’s lack of porpoising compared to its rivals.

In this regard, we can see that the RB18 features a series of internal beams and braces that help support the floor in relation to the chassis (see below), helping to reduce flexing of the floor when a load is applied to it.

The floor of the Red Bull RB18 in F1 in 2022

Red Bull Racing RB18 floor stiffening

Red Bull Racing RB18 floor stiffening

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull RB18 internal floor stay

Red Bull RB18 internal floor stay

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The new regulations have placed even more emphasis on the parameters of the floor and the diffuser, and the sensitivity to changes in the height of the chassis has added importance to several aspects of its design.

The increased complexity of the floor, diffuser and its ancillary components has also led to an increase in weight relative to previous cars, something the teams are constantly looking for in order to reduce lap time without compromising durability.

Red Bull Racing RB18 floor detail

Red Bull Racing RB18 floor detail

Photo: Giorgio Piola

The FIA has tried to prevent some of the extreme solutions seen on the bottom edges in recent seasons, but without killing the originality of the design.

Red Bull opted, unlike some of its rivals, not to use the ‘side wings’ permitted by regulation . Curiously, it seems to have been inspired by the regulations that were introduced in 2021 and that led to the Z-shaped cutouts in the area before where the narrowing of the rear end of the floor was to be made.

Just before that, there is a horseshoe-shaped cutout that also creates a split in the background, with the shorter section at a markedly different height and outline.

An effort was made to optimize this part of the floor on numerous occasions, in order to improve the performance of both the top surface of the side pillar and the subfloor.

Red Bull Racing RB18 floor

Red Bull Racing RB18 floor

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull RB18 floor detail

Red Bull RB18 floor detail

Photo by: Uncredited

To do this, a Gurney-like appendage has been added to the corner of the front section of the floor (red arrow, left image), and the size and shape of the blister and channel that form in the pontoon edge.

The RB18 subsurface design has several intriguing aspects, as the team did not just do a conventional design, according to the other teams.

Red Bull Racing RB18 floor

Floor of the Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo: Giorgio Piola

For example, the front bottom section [1&2] has a striking outline that works in conjunction with the keel. It is a rather unique design when compared to the one used by the rest of the teams.

We have since seen this design among some of Red Bull ‘s rivals, along with the stepped bottom back [3], while the ‘ice skate’ solution first seen on the RB18 [4] has found its way into road in the Ferrari F1-75 and the Alpine A522.

Red Bull brake cooling in F1 2022 (RB18)

One area where we saw Red Bull repeatedly make evolutions during the early stages of the season was the front brake inner duct fairing.

Due to the increased size of the rims this season, from 13 to 18 inches, the brake discs have also grown in diameter, now measuring around 50mm larger.

However, the drill holes that make their way from the center of the disk to its edge are more limited, with the minimum diameter reduced to 3mm. Cooling holes in the pads are also no longer allowed.

This has a clear impact on the design of numerous components. In addition, the drum of the brake lines, also larger and now located inside the rim, influences the air flow and heat exchange of the assembly.

Red Bull RB18 front brake comparison

Red Bull RB18 front brake comparison

Photo: Giorgio Piola

In response to this, Red Bull and several of its rivals chose to create a fairing on the inside of the brake disc , isolating the brake disc from the drum and altering the flow of air around and away from the brake disc; With this, temperatures are not high.

To avoid the ‘Goldilocks’ effect of being neither too hot nor too cold, several changes were made, not only to the shape of the fairing but also to its content.

The original design (upper left inset) shows the insulating material that surrounded the inner face of the disk and was later replaced with a carbon fiber panel. There is also a change in the color of both the fairing and the brake calipers, as both have a thermal coating to improve heat transfer.

The Red Bull RB18 chassis in F1 2022

Red Bull Racing RB18 engine cover comparison & floor indent

Red Bull Racing RB18 engine cover comparison & floor indent

Red Bull Racing RB18 engine cover cooling outlet

Red Bull Racing RB18 engine cover cooling outlet

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull has updated the RB18’s chassis numerous times throughout the season in an effort to find a better balance between the car’s cooling demands and its aerodynamic performance .

The biggest of these changes came at the British Grand Prix, when the team introduced a solution already seen on other cars on the grid. The shoulder-like section extends shelf-like back from the transition between halo and cockpit, not only creating an upper overhang that the airflow wants to follow, but also creating a dividing line. for the competing flow structures below.

The team continued this development at the next race, in Austria, when it opened the rear section of the engine cover.

A further optimization of the new design (inset on the right) was made for the Belgian Grand Prix, which adjusted the mid-section of the bodywork that runs between the engine cover and the sidepod drop.

The approximation of the airflow to the collector region has also been resolved with a change in the shape of the lower fork fairing in which, by the way, a slit can be seen in the upper surface of the bottom to allow it to travel ( top left box, blue arrow).

Red Bull RB18 wing solutions

Red Bull RB18 front wing endplate comparison

Red Bull RB18 front wing tips comparison

Photo: Giorgio Piola

The regulation changes made by the FIA for 2022 have greatly contributed to reducing the advantage that teams found in the design of their front and rear wings.

Of course, there are still many variants on the grid, with the relationship between downforce generation, car balance and airflow conditioning remaining critical to delivering the level of performance each team requires.

With this in mind, minor changes have been made to the RB18’s upper front wing on a number of occasions, in order to tune the car front to rear based on circuit characteristics. Perhaps the biggest change came at the start, as the diveplane on the outside of the endplate was changed at the Australian Grand Prix to an S-shaped variant, in order to have a different gradual response.

Red Bull Racing RB18 beam wing comparison

Red Bull Racing RB18 wing comparison

Photo: Giorgio Piola

Where Red Bull has been very proactive is in the layout of its beam wing. Having started the season with a different approach to the rest of the grid, having introduced a stacked biplane layout, he quickly set about trimming elements to suit his overall downforce and drag targets.

It should be noted that the beam spoiler will act as a connecting medium for the flow structures at the rear of the car, meaning it has influence over the diffuser and rear wing.

Two polar opposite configurations have been seen for circuits that require more and less downforce. For the lower downforce venues, Red Bull has opted to remove the top element of the two wings, while a new, more conventional design appeared in Hungary.

Red Bull Racing RB18 rear wing

Red Bull Racing RB18 rear wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull Racing RB18 rear wing comparison

Red Bull Racing RB18 rear wing comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Because the RB18 is perhaps the most efficient in the category, as evidenced by its speed figures compared to the level of wing it carries when compared to its rivals, the team has not pursued a low-downforce design in its rear spoiler; not even for Monza.

In fact, he even abandoned his attempts to trim the trailing edge of the upper wing to reduce drag when a DRS oscillation issue occurred, similar to the one the team had suffered towards the end of its 2021 campaign.

Divergent interests of the Red Bull RB18

Red Bull Racing RB18 floor comparison

Red Bull Racing RB18 Floor Comparison

Photo: Giorgio Piola

Not every development that goes into an F1 car ends up resulting in improved performance, and teams often have to weigh the positives and negatives of pursuing a design that doesn’t deliver the expected performance out of the box. It is also true that what is seen as a solution to get the best lap time may not work for both drivers.

An evolution introduced by Red Bull at the British Grand Prix is giving them exactly that headache, as Max Verstappen’s RB18 has recently been fitted with the simple solution, while Sergio Pérez has raced with the more complex layout, similar to the one that Ferrari has been using for some time.

Capping costs and reducing the use of CFD and wind tunnel time based on championship position means teams have to be more careful than ever to manage not only the development of this year’s car , but also that of next year’s prototype.

Therefore, it is likely that fewer and fewer evolutions will arrive as we enter the final stretch of the championship.

However, it is possible that some of the research carried out on next year’s car will offer a significant performance improvement that justifies making full-scale parts.


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