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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

This Is The Red Bull RB12... Livery


Have Formula 1 car launches become completely pointless? Earlier this month we "saw" the new Renault factory team launch event in which we saw last year's car with a display livery on it that won't be used in races. Today we have been shown the 2016 Red Bull Racing livery on last year's car instead of the new car, which will actually appear at the start of pre-season testing next week. Is it just that teams are too afraid to let each other see clever new pieces of aero, or are the real cars simply not finished enough yet... or do the teams just not really care any more? We'll see plenty of photos during testing, after all. Who knows...

In the case of Red Bull, it might be that the RB12 isn't quite ready to show yet anyway. In fact, the new chassis only passed its final crash test today, less than a week before testing begins. Being whole weeks behind other teams in this regard is most likely down to how long it took the team to secure an engine deal - after a whole year spent slagging off Renault and threatening to switch engine supplier, they are running...... Renault engines. Except they're not called Renault engines, they're branded as TAG-Heuer power units. I can almost guarantee there is no Swiss engineering back there, though...

See, Red Bull wanted Mercedes power for 2016, but a miscommunication issue followed by Mercedes not wanting their factory cars to be beaten put paid to that deal materialising. Ferrari would've made sure Red Bull were second-best to their car during the season and really weren't interested in giving them the same hardware as the red cars (as such Toro Rosso are getting late-2015 spec Ferrari engines this year, not fresh ones), so that's another no. Honda, with all the will in the world, aren't exactly looking desirable at the moment after McLaren's own year-long struggles. There was a lot of talk that Volkswagen or their Audi brand would enter as a factory supplier to Red Bull, but before that could be set in motion the German behemoth got landed in one of the biggest automotive industry scandals of all time, so they've decided to focus on dealing with that instead. Besides, Audi are still at the sharp end of LMP1 and a switch wouldn't make total sense... yet.

So in the end, after all the smack talk and frantic meetings, Red Bull are seeing out the final year of their contract with Renault after all. Nevertheless, between the new Renault factory team and all the badmouthing in 2015, the engines have different logos on them, pinched after TAG-Heuer ended its long-term partnership with McLaren. The eleventh-hour deals have rather compressed the amount of time in which to design and build the new car in full, but the team remains bullish, as it were, about their chances.

Enough of that for now though, let's look at the new livery everyone!


Infiniti have also left the team, as they're a "Renault-Nissan Alliance" brand (selling deluxe Nissans, if you haven't head of them). This means the purple flashes have gone, and with a chance to revamp its colour scheme Red Bull have made the traditional dark blue so dark it's almost black. The "RED BULL" logos no longer have a white stroke around the edges, the bull has a yellow outline instead of a white one, and the whole car now has a matte finish, following the trend set by Williams Martini Racing last year. We've been reassured that there is no issue with weight or aerodynamics when using this finish, thank goodness. It will make the sponsors easier to read in different lighting conditions, but it will also make any changes to the body shape more obvious by the same token. Overall I think it's quite a nice, clean update to their signature look, although I hope it looks a little more blueish in broad daylight than it does in some of these under-lights images found online.

It would appear Puma will have a noticeable presence sponsorship-wise, by the way. I know you find that sort of thing terribly interesting...


Behind the scenes, aerodynamics supercomputer Adrian Newey will take another step back from his responsibilities this year, but aside from that the main faces are essentially unchanged from 2015, with the driving done by smiley metalhead Daniel Ricciardo and pronunciation challenge Daniil Kvyat. GP3 driver Alfonso Celis Jr. of Mexico will be the reserve driver, replacing full-time Formula E driver (and Renault-Nissan man) Sébastien Buemi.

Team boss Christian Horner said at the launch event that their first aim is just to be comfortably into Q3 in Australia, and they'll set their ambitions for the season from there. The 2016 Renault power unit is allegedly much more promising than last year, with British engineering company Ilmor aiding in its development. Normally a customer team - as Red Bull have essentially become - is on the back foot compared to the factory team, as they get the power unit delivered in a box instead of being able to design it alongside the chassis for perfect harmony... but Red Bull's lengthy experience with Renault power combined with the factory team in Enstone being fresh and switching away from the Mercedes power Lotus used there last year could neutralise much of that disadvantage - and don't go thinking the late engine deal will make a big difference to that; it's not exactly like Renault bought the Lotus team with time to spare either...


This season has a number of question marks over it before you even wonder about Lewis v Nico. Is Renault's new power unit actually better? Is Honda's, for that matter? Where will Renault-at-Enstone be in the pecking order? Where will the all-new HAAS team fit in? Will Manor be able to score points with Mercedes power and Williams tech support on its side? Have Ferrari caught up to the Germans in terms of raw power? We must remain patient for now. If you need distractions in order to do that, here's Daniel Ricciardo on stage with a metal band called Parkway Drive:


A video posted by Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) on

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