Formula 1 – Red Bull Racing’s RB8 Revealed…

February 7, 2012

Formula 1

Red Bull Racing’s 2012 challenger, the RB8, which will contest this year’s Formula One campaign and defend the Team’s two successive World Championship titles, has been unveiled.


Does recent success add to the pressure to maintain it or lessen it, as you have continuity?

The last few years have been really good, really successful; it’s been an incredible journey to get there. It’s the fourth evolution of the RB5 this year, so obviously the pressure is to try and stay there if we possibly can. It’s a difficult task, we have lost the exhaust technology with the restriction exhaust outlet position that we were able to develop and perhaps be ahead of the pack on in the last couple of years, that led to a big re think over the winter. Whether that will affect us more than other people is difficult to know of course. We designed the RB7, last year’s car, around that exhaust position and were probably the only people to do so, so it may be that we’ve lost more than other people through that. Only time will tell, it will be good to get out to do some testing and to see where we get to.

      Do you find that frustrating or more of a challenge?            

Regulation restrictions like the lost exhaust are a bit frustrating in truth, because they are exactly that, they are restrictions, they’re not giving new opportunities or revenues particularly, they’re just closing a door. Regulation changes I enjoy, regulation restrictions I rather lament.


      How have you coped with the removal of the exhaust blown diffuser for RB8?

RB7 was designed around the exhaust, this year knowing that the exhaust position from last year would be taken away, we’ve had to go back and look at how we developed the car through the last one and two years with the side exit exhaust and try and, if you like, make sure that the routes we had taken that were only suitable for that exhaust position we now had to re-evaluate. Probably one of the key things there is the rear ride height. The exhaust allowed us to run a high rear ride height, it’s much more difficult without that to sustain a high rear height so we have to go back down and have to redevelop the car around that lower ride height.

The other major change is the height of the nose. Did that present difficulties?

The restriction nose height which is a maximum height just in front of the front bulkhead hasn’t really changed the chassis shape very much. We’ve kept more or less the same chassis shape, but had to drop the nose just in front of the front bulkhead, which, in common with many other teams, has led us to I think I’d probably say a slightly ugly looking nose. We’ve tried to style it as best we can, but it’s not a feature you would choose to put in were it not for the regulation.

Would you say RB8 is still an evolution of RB7 or did you have to rethink many aspects?

I’d say RB8 is the fourth generation of what started with the 2009 car, the RB5. So I guess this is the great grandson of that car.

Do you simply hate to lose or is the thing that keeps you coming back the process of solving the design puzzle created by the regulations?

I’ve been lucky enough through my career to have had a good amount of success and people often ask will I retire soon or whatever, the answer is that as long as I keep enjoying it then I’d like to keep going. What really fascinates me about it is the technical challenge, the fact that we’ve moved a very high, fast pace, so every two weeks we’re out being evaluated, which if we’re doing well is great, and if we’re doing poorly is painful, so at least you know where you are and you get to see the product of your work very quickly. So I really enjoy working with my colleagues, my fellow engineers here atMilton Keynes, with the drivers of course at the track and it’s a job that has many facets and many varieties that you always get that immediate feedback and that really motivates me about the job.

In Sebastian you’ve got a driver who seems to be getting even better. What do you expect from this season?

I think we have a great driver line up. Sebastian, obviously double World Champion now, I think matured tremendously through last year. In 2010 he drove a great season, showed immense talent and thoroughly deserved to be World Champion at the end of it. It was a rocky year, he was a very young lad, showed incredible determination and ability to learn from his mistakes. Like all people he made mistakes through that year, but he never made them twice and I think that ability to learn from his mistakes and to always be searching and trying to improve really showed in his driving last year. He really made no mistakes last year, he was aggressive when he needed to be, he was patient when he needed to be, he really showed incredible maturity and there is no reason to think that won’t continue.

And in Mark you have a driver with a point to make after a difficult 2011. Do you think Mark will find RB8 an easier task then RB7?

Mark had a rocky ride last year. Through his 2010 he had a very good season and he was unlucky in many ways not to be World Champion at the end of that year. 2011 he initially I think struggled a little bit to understand how to use the Pirelli tyres. It took a little bit of time for him to adapt to them. He’s had a great winter, he’s tremendously fit, he’s really looking forward to the start of the season and I think he’ll be one to look out for this year I hope.

Is part of what keep you coming back the process of evolving this team? Is it still a work in progress?

The team is still a relatively young team, it’s come a long way in a very short period and we had a great deal of success over the last two or three years but we still occasionally show our youth, we still occasionally make mistakes which hopefully is like the swan that looks graceful on the top but there is lot of action going on underneath. So we’re still learning, but I think the fact that we are a young team with tremendous spirit and determination is great, which means that we do learn and we do try to evaluate and to continue to criticise ourselves and see how we can improve. I would hope with the confidence of the last few years and our steady improvement, we can keep maintaining and keep learning.

How do you approach that moment of first dropping the car on track? Are you quietly confident or is there a dread of what other teams will bring?

People often ask just before the new car runs, what’s the expectation for this year and my answer is always, I have absolutely no idea. We know what we have done through the winter, we know how we have developed the car but we have absolutely no idea what everybody else has done, with the regulation changes and restrictions then it’s quite a different game to the end of last year. Have we made as much improvement as others, more, less? It’s impossible to know. There is always trepidation when we start preseason testing and preseason testing itself is very difficult to read from. If we are hopelessly uncompetitive to another team then we will probably realise it, if there’s two or three of us that look broadly similar then it will be very difficult to pick actually who is the quickest out of those. So it won’t be until we get toMelbournequalifying that we’ll really get more of a feel for it.

Finally, how does the OBE feel?

To be recognised by the Queen with an OBE is very flattering, I’m particularly proud of the fact that it’s for engineering achievements. I think so often engineers in theUKare overlooked and that’s a shame given our proud roots through the Victorian area of developing industry and technology engineering. I feel real pride actually that I’ve been awarded that and a tremendous thank you to everybody who feels that’s been appropriate. I’ve had an enormously enjoyable career and to be recognised as an engineer gives a very good feeling.


Back-to-back titles, the record for pole positions, most laps led, 11 wins last year – what’s your next target?

Oh, we do it again! Obviously, we had a great year, and I think you know we’ll always look back to 2011 and think how special it was, but to be honest, you don’t start the season having, you know, expectations to have the same or similar season again. So we know how special it was and we really enjoyed that but we know how hard it is to be that consistent – always there and nearly every race on the podium – so, you know, the target is to obviously try to do it again and try to get everything out of ourselves, so we’ll see how we get on with the new car, the RB8.


Did you get a chance to enjoy winning another world title?

Yeah, it was obviously, you know, quite busy after the first championship back in 2010, so yeah, in 2011, surely there’s a couple of things you have to do, want to do and you want to give back as well to, you know, people here in the factory, your fans. But after that, around Christmas, it was really time to slow down, back off a little bit and enjoy the peace, have a good rest in order to be prepared for this season. It will be a long and hard season again, but yeah it was really nice to let things sink in and, as I said before, you know, I think it makes you realise how special the season was when you look at the results again and the races itself, and you sum up things a little bit. So, it was a nice feeling and the good thing is, similar to back in 2010, no one can take it away from you, so it was always stays in your memory.

How did you spend your off-season?

Well, the thing is, many people always imagine the off-season to be as exciting or, you know, busy as the actual season – as in we do crazy things or we live a crazy life. But, to be honest, when you are travelling so much and you are so busy, you enjoy the time you have off really and that’s sitting at home enjoying normal things – watching TV, just not having to do anything. So I think that it was quite important to recharge the batteries, re-fuel the system a little bit, and, yeah, to come back fresh – hopefully fresh enough for this year. So, over Christmas I spent my time home with the family and with friends and then I went skiing a little bit; we had an awful lot of snow this winter so it was quite good. And then, very soon in January, you start to prepare yourself again. You start to work out regularly, so you get back into shape and burn the unnecessary calories and probably the unnecessary weight you might have put on over Christmas.

Are you expecting a bigger, tighter fight this year?

The thing is, at the beginning of last year we didn’t really expect whatever happened last year, so I think it’s the same thing again. It would be wrong to go into this season and expect 2011 to happen again, as in getting into the lead early and having a very big gap to other competitors in the Championship. So I think it will be very, very tight this year and everything else would be a surprise to be honest. Looking at the cars, you know there’s not much room we have left to play (with) for designers and to find something extra. You know, the last two years we have had two big things taken away, the double diffusers, plus, for this year, the system around the blown exhaust. So we are missing that and therefore I think it’s difficult to really create a difference. We’ll see, obviously we hope our car is better than all the others but it will be difficult, and I think the cars will be fairly similar, as in the gaps will be even closer than they have been.

Can you identify any weakness in your game? Are there things you want to work on?

Of course (in) 2011 we were extremely successful and it was a good season, so we did only very few mistakes. But still we sat down during the season and especially after the season and before this season again, trying to identify where we think we can improve, and yeah we got a couple of points. It’s not as if it was a blank sheet, so you would be surprised, and I think you know, we had a couple of pages with things that we can do better, we know we can do better. Of course, there were a lot of things that we did well and we try to keep it up and improve them as well but, as I said, there are a lot of things here and there you know – small things, details, attention to detail – that you can work on that might make a difference on a Sunday. You know we have 20 races, so maybe it helps you only in one out of 20 races, but that might help you to score that one point more that you might need to be on top at the end, so we’ll see.

What’s it like getting in the new car for the first time?

Obviously, you have a rough idea how the car should look like by what you see in the early stages from the design office, so yes it’s quite exciting to see the full car, everything coming together. So it’s quite a long progress, imagining when we start building the car and to today, where we present it. And again, the most exciting bit is putting it on track and seeing how it feels, so that’s yet to be seen. But (the) first time I jumped into the car for the seat fit – checking the position, checking your pedals, see if everything works – I think it was the same for Mark and myself, we felt extremely comfortable, everything went well and we got our position, comfortable position, fairly quickly. So it didn’t take too long. We had other cars where a little bit here a little bit there, you know, you always ask for something, but the RB8 was pretty straightforward, so we hope it continues that way.

What do you think about Mr Ecclestone’s hope that you don’t dominate again?

I hope he’s wrong obviously! Its difficult to say. You know, every season we start from zero again and unlike other sports… I don’t know if in tennis, for instance, you’re the number one in the world, there is a certain gap between you and the number two, so you have this cushion and it doesn’t matter if its one year or another year, you still have it, whereas for us it all starts from zero again, zero points, everyone has the same chance and we are all building our new cars. So, until we really put them on track to race each other we don’t really know. So, we’ll see, but I’m as confident as I can be at this point and hopefully we will have a good couple of days with the car; a good couple of days testing to prepare the season well.

Have you thought of a name for the car yet?

Not yet, no name yet! To be honest, last year we found a name I think Wednesday before the first race, in that race week, so we might be a bit earlier this year, but so far, no names. We have a couple of candidates, hot candidates, but nothing is decided yet!


After a period of success, does a car launch come with more or less pressure on the team?

Yes the success of the team in the last few years has been exceptional, so every time we launch a new car there is a lot of anticipation and excitement as you touch on some nerves and expectation. The bar has been set high. We have cleaned up in the last few years, our Constructors’ Championship last year was very dominant. Both drivers are performing near the front and the team is being very reliable, we know that we have to keep working hard. The continuity has been a key factor in that, all of our Partners have been great for us and there is no reason in 2012 we can’t be challenging for top results again.

Are you nervous about giving a car its debut on the test track or is there too much to think about?

I’m very excited about driving the car for the first time, it’s a huge amount of work that has gone into it as always with a new car. The initial running is really about getting as much information as we can, learning what the car strengths are, where some of its weaknesses might be and then we need to work on those very, very quickly. We don’t have much testing before we get toMelbourneand before we know it the winter programme will be over. It is a big responsibility and one that I’m looking forward to.

Last season was tricky for you. What did you take away from 2011?

As you say last year wasn’t an amazing season, but it wasn’t too bad for me. I still managed to finish third in the Drivers’ Championship, not far off second with Jenson there, so it was a great way for me to finish the year with the victory inBraziland many strong results. We’re always learning as athletes and I’m looking forward to 2012, its got some great opportunities for me.  You know the old cliché take each race as it comes but that’s how it will be initially and we’ll go from there.

How much of a boost was the win in Brazil?

The win in Brazil was a great feeling, at this level when you win it’s always very rewarding with the amount of effort that goes in,
but when you have the feeling again having the national anthem, all those things that remind you of how unique it is and how important it is to get the most out of yourself and win those grands prix, it’s very, very special.


What are you hoping for from RB8?

The characteristics of the RB8 we’re looking for is a car that’s very driveable which means not only from an engine side, Renault are doing a good job there, but also aerodynamically we need a car that’s functional on all circuits in all temperatures and clearly we need to get the best out of the tyres which was a huge thing last year for everybody. That’s pretty much done now. Everyone knows how the tyres behave, that’s old news. We need to move on and develop the car as best we can without the exhaust affecting the blown diffuser, which was the very powerful thing that the teams used last year. This year that’s changed so that’s going to be a key area of trying to understand the losses we’ve had there.

Will Pirelli’s promise to reduce the performance gap between options help you?

Yes they changed the tyre a little bit this year, but its pretty much old news, the tyres have been around for a while now the teams get on top of that stuff reasonably quickly, and the drivers, I’m talking in the space of a few months to half a year, which is pretty quick, so the teams know what we’re in for so we’ll just get stuck into the racing.

Is 2012 as a chance to lay down a few markers after a tough 2011?

I think off the back of last year many sportsmen or women when you don’t get the most out of a situation you always want to come back and improve and do a better job.  The bar has been lifted very, very high in the last few seasons and it’s the challenge I’m looking forward to.  I’ve had a really good winter and prepared for the season as best I can so I’m looking forward to the new season, I just cannot wait to get racing.  We can talk a lot about it but we need to get on the track.

And finally, what have you been up to over the winter away from Formula One?

I’ve had a great break actually. After Brazil I came back here to Europe and did some stuff in Austria for Red Bull which was good, we did the show run in Milton Keynes, then I did the Tasmanian Challenge which was really enjoyable to see how that went and it was a great race down there and then I could really switch off actually, do a bit of surfing, also got the motorbikes out so had a bit of fun with those. It was really good to spend time with quality people I love being with away from the sport for a while, but I must say that come the middle of January I always get itchy feet to get back into the car again, so it was the perfect balance for me to unwind.

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