Red Bull’s ‘aggressive’ packaging impacted test

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Red Bull Racing’s chief technical officer, Adrian Newey, has admitted that the Jerez test problems the team experienced centered around not only Renault Sport F1’s engines issue but their own tight packaging of the power plant. Newey explained to AUTOSPORT:

“Hands up on our side, that was a Red Bull problem,” said Newey.

“It was, you could argue, a result of aggressive packaging but we felt that we needed to take a few risks to try to get a good package that would minimise the aerodynamic damage of this very large cooling requirement.”

On element to the 2014 regulations that was explained to me in detail during my visit to Ferrari last summer was the main issue surrounding cooling. While many were wondering about the V6 turbo engine and tire concerns, Ferrari’s engineers explained to me that the biggest challenge was always going to be cooling.

The V8 engine—and its cooling demands—had become a well trodden path in design circles. The teams were completely versed on how much space they needed for cooling and what airflow the system would require. The 2013 car designs needed very little tweaking due to the stable, well-known regulations centered on the V8 format.

The 2014 regulations have added weight, size, new ERS unit and more demanding exhaust heat requirements for charge air from the turbo. As Ferrari explained then, determining how much air needs to enter the car and how to manage that without penalty to downforce or drag is the real key.

Newey is arguably one of the best designers in Formula 1 history but he’s not without his over-reaching attempts. McLaren’s MP4-18, which never raced, or Red Bull’s RB4 and its suspension issues. Newey designs aggressively and our question, even back in 2013, was centered around the thought that Newey could go a bridge too far with the design.

Having voiced our thoughts on the matter, it does stand to reason that the 2014 chassis will be an evolution of Newey’s thought process with the RB series of cars so any heating problems may be sorted rather quickly.

Compounding the issue of heat is the requirements that Renault Sport F1 have for their system versus other engine makers. Newey explained to Henry Hope-Frost of AUTOSPORT:

“It is certainly a challenge to package everything in,” said Newey.

“The radiator area that we need to cool the charge air from the turbo and additionally all of the extra cooling we need for the electrical side of things, the batteries, the motor generator unit and so forth, the control box… It means that the radiator area is roughly double last year’s car with the V8.

“So trying to package that in without compromising the aerodynamics too heavily is a challenge.”
“The Renault seems to have a particularly large cooling requirement.

“Everybody of the three engine manufacturers will have a different target for how hot their charge air is going back into the plenum and Renault have given us a fairly challenging target.

“It has all sorts of advantages if we can get there, but it is not easy to achieve.”

One has to consider the increased energy generation, storage and deployment as well and while working with Shell in 2013, we learned that the lubricants used for ERS units had insulating properties as well as heat requirements. Shell have several products running in a Ferrari chassis to reduce heat and friction and were taking the challenge very seriously with regards to insulators and lubricants for the ERS unit as well as engine and transmission. One has to think that Total, Red Bull’s fuel and lubricant partner, are taking it very seriously as well.

I suspect Red Bull will sort their issues and it seems that Renault Sport F1 have already made ground on the technical issues they had in Jerez. Bahrain will certainly unpack the story even further but an embarrassing 31 laps ran in Jerez is not a way the team wished to start their season.

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