Technical analysis: A detailed look at the Red Bull RB13

Nose and Front-Wing

Despite the overall simplicity of the new Red Bull, the front of the RB13 has had arguably the most treatment over winter than any of its main rivals.

There are no drastic changes to the front-wing but, unlike the rest of the grid, the upper flaps have an upturned shape inboard of the car. Having always been at the forefront of powering the Y250 vortex, perhaps Red Bull have found a step forward in forming and controlling the vortex’s characteristics.

The nose has drawn a lot of attention simply because nobody else has put a hole in their thumb tip extension. Lotus came up with a solution to evade the single cross section rule in 2014 and this has been copied inside the RB13’s nostril. A series of vertical aerofoil-shaped vanes are arranged in a vee and are arranged closely so that when any slice of the nose is taken, the upper part and lower parts of the channel are always connected by one of the vanes.

The hole exits immediately behind the tip and not up to the new S-duct or to the driver footwell, so it is clear that it has been designed to work the airflow passing over and around the neutral section of the front-wing. 

Bargeboards and Bodywork 

We all know how strong the Red Bull aero department are so whilst it was disappointing to see a lack of creativity in the bargeboard region we can be confident that something new is on its way ahead of Melbourne.

The bodywork along the mid-section of the car, however, is a joy to behold. Thanks to a much larger airbox, and subsidiary inlet behind the driver’s head, the sidepod intakes have been impressively downscaled. The bodywork then tapers beautifully towards the centre and slopes upwards to merge with the engine cover. The shrink-wrapping effect is so extreme that the sidepod undercut is virtually devoid and instead a tight dome shape forms around the internals, only flaring at the rear to vent the hot internal flow over the rear wishbones.

Having always put aero ahead of every other aspect of the car, the tight bodywork has many benefits – should the Renault power unit beneath be sufficiently cooled. The wider tyres and track width have had a notable impact on the car’s drag, meaning that power sensitivity is even higher from an engine perspective. To counter any potential shortfalls from Renault’s end, decreasing the car’s surface area will improve straightline speed. In addition, the exposed floor area as a result of this pinching effect can be used to power the rear diffuser, which is both taller and wider for 2017.

Floor and Rear Details

The wider floors have created room to play with their shape and how they influence flow along the car’s flanks. Unlike any of the other cars, sections of the floor have been removed beside the sidepod intakes to let low pressure air out along the side. Red Bull traditionally run a high rake angle to extract more performance from the diffuser. This requires good sealing of the floor and the cutouts will work in conjunction with the bargeboard devices and Y250 vortex to form an air skirt along the side of the car.

The larger rear diffuser continues with the edgeless outwash design with slots made into the sides to entice airflow out from beneath. 

A simple but notable observation is the central exhaust placement, which now sits lower and between the two wastegate pipes. This lowers the car’s centre of gravity slightly and also opens up opportunities for a winglet to influence the exhaust plume.