David Coulthard (GBR/ Red Bull Racing), chief technical officer Adrian Newey, team principal Christian Horner, technical director Geoffrey Willis (Red Bull Racing), managing director Rob White (Renault) and Mark Webber (AUS/ Red Bull Racing) with an RB4
Red Bull Racing’s bid to build on the success of 2007 was launched at Jerez today. The RB4, designed by chief technical officer Adrian Newey, was shown to the press for the very first time at a (rather wet) Spanish circuit this morning.
Joining Newey and drivers David Coulthard and Mark Webber were team principal Christian Horner, technical director Geoff Willis and Renault MD Rob White.
DC was the team’s first driver to put the car through its paces today.
The Renault-powered machine is the second car designed for the team under the technical leadership of Adrian Newey. With it Red Bull hope to solve the reliability problems they experienced with its predecessor and build on the fifth place they achieved in the 2007 constructors’ championship.
Coulthard was first on track with new car
Anxiously watching from the pit wall was team principal, Christian Horner: "It's always a key moment to see a new car run for the first time," he said. "And particularly in the case of RB4, that first lap represents a monumental amount of work from the entire workforce. Over the last few weeks, all the departments have made Herculean efforts to get the car ready for this shakedown today".
RB4 front wing
“The RB4 will be an evolution of the RB3, which showed good pace during the season, especially in the final three races.
"In 2007 we gave away approximately 24 points as a result of poor reliability, without which we would have been much closer to Renault and ahead of Williams. This is therefore one of our key focuses for 2008.”
Despite the wet track, David Coulthard completed an installation lap early this morning. "It's great to see a new car come together," he commented. "Inevitably, a lot of parts were still arriving last night, so when I left for my bed it looked a bit bare, but this morning, there it was in all its glory! It looks super with lots of nice detail on it and given that it did its installation lap and came back to the garage, so far we have achieved all our targets! Now we have to build from there".
Also announced today is the appointment of Sebastien Buemi as the team's test and reserve driver for 2008. The 19 year old from Aigle in Switzerland, will combine this role with a GP2 race seat with the Arden team.
Last year, Buemi took part in five GP2 events, replacing the injured Michael Ammermuller, but his main focus was the Formula 3 Euroseries, in which he finished as runner-up. In 2002, he was European Karting champion and runner-up in the ADAC BMW series in 2005.
"This appointment is a big step forward for me," commented Buemi. "I am delighted and thank Red Bull, which has supported me in the lower formulas since 2005. I will do my best to concentrate on combining my GP2 racing commitment with my duties for Red Bull Racing and I am looking forward to the year ahead."
Chief Technical Officer (Red Bull Technology)
F1 espionage is very much the story du jour and it seems that switching teams with a head full of ideas is okay, while bringing your hard drive with you isn’t. In that case, Red Bull did rather well in persuading Newey to set up camp in Milton Keynes, his head brimming with the ideas that have produced so many Grand Prix wins. In fact, our Chief Technical Officer has a charming, if quaint, insistence on occasionally resorting to a well sharpened 3B pencil and a drawing board the size of the deck on an aircraft carrier. Our security staff are under orders to stop anyone going through the gates with a drawing board under their arm.
When he should have been drinking in the Student Union Bar at Southampton University, Newey insisted on writing a thesis on ground-effect aerodynamics and gaining a first-class honors degree. Despite these handicaps, he immediately found himself working in racing for Fittipaldi Automotive. A move to the March team in 1981 saw Newey forge a career in the USA, with cars he designed winning in IMSA and CART, including three Indianapolis 500 victories. He returned to work in F1 for March, which was taken over by Leyton House, and Newey became the team’s Technical Director for three years from 1987. Williams then came knocking. After 58 race wins, five constructors’ and four drivers’ titles, Newey was on the move again, this time to McLaren in 1997, where he helped Mika Hakkinen to two drivers’ crowns. He came on board in 2006, with last year’s RB3 his first clean-sheet Red Bull car. In an ever more homogeneous world, a Newey car always seems to bear his unmistakable signature and that is certainly the case with the 2008 RB4.
“For the 2008 car, we had more time to refine the package, as the 2007 car was designed in quite a compressed period, and we didn’t know the details of the engine until very late in the program. This time, knowing the Renault engine meant we were able to refine the installation.”
The arrival of Geoffrey Willis as Technical Director has allowed Newey to expand his own role within the company. “I am now much freer to concentrate on the performance aspects of the car, as well as getting involved with Christian and Geoff in strategic decisions about where we go in the future. Geoff’s arrival has given me more time to look at the broader picture.”
The new structure might also allow Adrian a bit more time to come out from behind the drawing board and indulge his enthusiasm for getting behind the wheel, with a 24-hour race in a Ferrari on the cards, as well as some Historic race outings in a GT40.
Team Principal (Red Bull Racing)
Red Bull Racing’s Team Principal was born in Royal Leamington Spa and was soon packed off to junior school where he excelled in the choir and as captain of the ‘Under 9½’ football team. Why the half? We will never know, but at the age of 12 (or was it 12½?) he discovered karts. Fed up with watching him destroy the family garden, his parents took him to a kart track where his love of motor sport began. “From that moment on, I was only a part-time student,” confesses Christian. In fact, Horner is still waiting to go to university, as he promised to continue his studies if a racing career did not work out. It looks as though the groves of Academe will have to wait.
David Coulthard was already a star name in karting when young Horner was starting out. “I seem to remember ads for karts that said, ‘You too can race the same kart as David Coulthard,’” recalls Horner. “My contemporaries were Fisichella, Trulli, Magnussen and Franchitti.” He finished third in the British Championship in 1990 before winning a Formula Renault scholarship for 1991. “I remember winning a race at the world-famous Pembrey circuit in Wales, beating Pedro de la Rosa into second place. From there I moved up to Formula 3, convinced I was going to be a Grand Prix driver.” Horner took five wins with the Lotus junior team when his and DC’s paths crossed yet again, as they shared a sponsor who made particularly tasteful men’s ‘slacks’.
A move to F3000 was next on the cards. Horner set up his own squad and, with a bare-bones team, realized just how hard it was to both drive and manage. “So I decided to stop driving and focus on the Arden team,” explains Horner, who hung up his helmet after a race at the Nürburgring in 1998. Arden began to make its mark, with Tomas Enge and Bjorn Wirdheim driving. In fact, Enge took the title in 2002, only to have it removed for failing a drugs test. Wirdheim won the Championship in 2003, while Tonio Liuzzi took the title in 2004 (nine poles and seven wins) and team-mate Robert Doornbos won at Spa. “I had achieved everything I could in F3000,” concludes Horner. “It was time to move on. Formula One had always been my goal and so my discussions started with Red Bull.” To trot out the standard cliché: the rest is history.
“Last year was a year of evolution, with the first Adrian Newey designed car,” says Horner. “This year is the first in the team’s history that we have continuity in all key elements: staff, drivers and engine partner. We go into this season on the back of a year in which our performance improved and there is a real sense that we are operating efficiently as a team, having come a long way since Red Bull’s initial investment back in 2005. Prospects for 2008 are encouraging and we are looking to make a step forward from where we finished last year. It is an extremely competitive field and the new challenge of running a common ECU with no driver aids will hopefully play into the hands of David and Mark, who certainly enjoyed the experience in testing of running without traction control and engine braking.
“There has been a strategic investment in the facilities at Milton Keynes, doubling the capacity of our manufacturing facility, which I believe puts us on a par with any team in Formula One. The infrastructure of the team has grown and we now have the right tools and equipment in place. And with the key recruitment of Geoff Willis as Technical Director last summer, we are now working as a cohesive group.”
Driver - Car 9
In terms of race wins, ‘DC’ is the second most successful driver on the grid this year and the second most experienced in terms of race starts. This is David’s 15th Formula One season and it’s a sign of his worth that Red Bull Racing is only his third home in all that time. He spent his first two years with Williams, following that with a loyal nine years’ service for McLaren. In terms of points scored, he is the leading British driver in the history of the sport.
The past 14 years have also produced some big numbers: 228 race starts, making him the fourth most experienced racer of all time, and 527 points scored, a total beaten only by Schumacher, Prost and Senna. His 13 wins to date put Coulthard 18th in the all-time winners list. Oh, and he has also produced one autobiography (It Is What It Is, available from all good bookshops) which shows remarkable restraint compared with other athletes who write their life story just a year or so after leaving school.
The 2008 season is Coulthard’s fourth with Red Bull Racing and, having been here since Day One, David is now very much part of its fabric, with a contribution that goes beyond mere cockpit time. All Coulthard’s F1 wins have come in cars designed by Adrian Newey and getting to drive another Newey-penned car in 2007 was something David had looked forward to for some time. Towards the end of the year, there were signs that improved reliability would allow the car’s performance potential to shine through in 2008.
Coulthard has won the ‘classic’ Grands Prix in Monaco, Britain, Belgium and Italy, but he singles out his French GP victory in 2000 as his most satisfying, as it was a really hard-fought win from third on the grid. Words such as ‘veteran’ and ‘elder statesman’ are the lazy shorthand used to describe David. However, listen to the air turn blue on the car-to-pit radio or watch the mechanics run for cover as he comes back to the pits when things don’t go to plan and it’s clear that the fire still burns brightly.
Technical Director (Red Bull Technology)
On 23 July 2007, Geoffrey Willis joined Red Bull Technology, taking on the role of Technical Director.
His arrival renewed a partnership with Adrian Newey that dated back to when both men, who share a common interest in yacht design, were at Williams. The Southampton-born Cambridge University graduate worked for the British America’s Cup team in 1987, where he developed hull and keel designs using computational fluid dynamics. His first Formula One role came with the Leyton House team, from where he joined Newey at Williams, eventually becoming Chief Aerodynamicist. He moved to BAR in 2002 and left the Honda team in 2006. After a period of the traditional gardening leave, he swapped compost for composites and flower beds for flow charts as he returned to the world of Formula One.
“When I first started with Red Bull,” says Willis, “I needed time to see what worked and what didn’t work in the team and then to concentrate on the most important problems first. Clearly Adrian (Newey) set the performance agenda for the car, in a lot of areas that I understand well after working with him for many years. The most important thing for me is that I’ve clearly understood what Adrian’s concept is so that we are not working at cross-purposes. It’s fundamentally a good technical team so I’ve been able to work on what needed fixing, ensuring that RB4 is manufactured on time, while trying to help build in reliability that comes from the design stage. Ultimately, these days, a lot of reliability results from the packaging. We are trying to make cars smaller and more tightly packaged and compress the design stage to buy ourselves more time in the wind tunnel, so we make the job harder and harder for ourselves. In the past, there would be discussions about whether you wanted a reliable car or a fast car. Frankly, to be successful in today’s championship, a car has to be both fast and reliable.”
When not hard at work, Willis likes to squeeze in some time on the ski slopes. “Personally, I prefer snowboarding and I’m more proficient at it, but now I have a young son, I think I’m going to have to improve my skiing. I’m still keen on mountain biking, but as I get older I find that crashing mountain bikes just gets more and more painful and the scars take longer to heal. After more than a decade away from riding motorbikes, I’ve succumbed to temptation and bought a new toy - and become, as Adrian insists on calling it, ‘an organ donor’! As a ‘born-again biker’, however, I’m confident that my lack of bravery eclipses my talent limits - ‘tocca ferro’, as we’d now say at home.”
Driver - Car 10
Mark Webber (or ‘Mack Wibba’, as he is known at home) made his Formula One debut with Minardi in 2002. It was a fairytale first: the team, run by fellow Australian Paul Stoddart, had not scored a point since 1999 and Mark finished his maiden race in fifth place, ending the season as the undisputed rookie of the year. Eleven years after the inevitable start in karts, Webber was beginning to make his mark in the sport’s top discipline. After karts and Formula Ford in his native Australia came the equally inevitable move to England for more single-seater experience and he put his name on the map by winning the prestigious Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch. Formula 3 followed, but then Mark’s career followed a path pioneered by Michael Schumacher, when he was taken on by the Mercedes sports car team.
Unfortunately, Webber’s time with the tin tops is best remembered for twice flipping the car at huge speed at the Le Mans 24 Hours weekend in 1999, through no fault of his own. This led to him racing more sensible cars and he ended up coming into Formula One through the more conventional Formula 3000 route.
Apart from his on-track commitment, Mark is a long-standing director of the Grand Prix Drivers Association, while the end of his F1 season means just one thing - the Mark Webber Pure Tasmania Challenge, which has raised three quarters of a million Australian dollars for charity, not counting last year’s event. Given that we have shamelessly plugged Coulthard’s biography, we are honor-bound to point out that there’s a DVD of the 2007 Challenge available in shops now.
Mark sees most of the great outdoors as something simply to pedal, paddle or punt across. This could be why he chooses to live not in some glamorous rich boy playground, but in beautiful Buckinghamshire, with one of the UK’s best mountain bike courses on his doorstep.
RENAULT - FABRICE LOM
As Renault’s Principal Engineer, Red Bull Racing Track Support, Fabrice Lom is the man with the job of leading his Renault troops into battle alongside the Red Bull Racing crew.
“Last year we learned how to work with Red Bull Racing and how to integrate our engine with their chassis. Every team has its own unique way of working, but it went very well, with very few sticking points.
“There were 16 of us on track last year and, in 2008, we have upped that to 20 personnel. We found it was not so easy to run two cars in winter testing and the workload in the winter months was such that we did not have the staff to run night shifts when necessary. “Usually, the end-of-year test sessions can be reasonably relaxed on the engine side. We are there to provide the power for the car while the team carries out tests on new components. However, this winter, we had to work very hard because of the new rules concerning electronics and the common ECU.
“Sometimes with a partnership, the first year can be the best, before you start really knowing one another and get less tolerant! I am sure that won’t be the case with us. In terms of performance, maybe we can make some progress, but more importantly we can improve our reliability so as to move up the Championship order. Apart from that, we want points, points, points!”
CHASSIS: Composite monocoque structure, designed and built in-house, carrying the Renault V8 engine as fully stressed member
TRANSMISSION: Seven-speed gearbox, longitudinally mounted with hydraulic system for power shift and clutch operation. AP Racing clutch
WHEELS: OZ Racing, Front: 12.7in x 13in, Rear: 13.4in x 13in
SUSPENSION: Front: Aluminum alloy uprights, upper and lower carbon wishbones and pushrods, torsion bar springs and anti roll bars, Multimatic dampers
Rear: Aluminum alloy uprights, upper and lower carbon wishbones and pushrods, torsion bar springs and anti roll bars, Multimatic dampers
BRAKES: Brembo calipers / Hitco carbon discs and pads
ELECTRONICS: FIA (MESL) standard control unit
NUMBER OF CYLINDERS: 8
MAX RPM: 19,000rpm
NUMBER OF VALVES: 32
VEE ANGLE: 90 degrees
POWER OUTPUT: Not disclosed
ENGINE CONSTRUCTION: Cylinder block in cast aluminum
ENGINE MANAGEMENT: FIA (MESL) standard control unit TAG310B
WEIGHT: FIA minimum weight of 95kg