On a rainy morning in Jerez, Spain, the Red Bull Formula One team brighten up the region with the unveiling of their RB4. The new baby in the Red Bull family is quite stylish with an eye-popping livery accentuating the outline of the F1 machine.
Red Bull's 2008 F1 challenger was officially unveiled on the final day of the first 2008 testing at the Jerez circuit. The Red Bull team chose the location instead of making a splash near their Milton Keynes headquarters in England. Adrian Newey's 2008 design -- his second since joining Red Bull in 2006 as their technical chief officer - was received with a lot of favourable comments by the press and the team drivers.
Newey's design has much to live up to, it comes from the man that created some of the most successful cars in F1. Newey's partnership with Patrick Head at Williams F1 dominated the sport in the early 90's. Newey worked his magic again in the late 90's, this time at McLaren and again creating the McLaren machines that were the ones to beat.
Present for today's launch were team drivers David Coulthard and Mark Webber along with the team's newest member Sebastien Buemi, who was announced today as the Red Bull test/reserve driver for the new season. Buemi will continue to challenge for the GP2 Series crown with Arden this year on top of his new duties.
"This appointment is a big step forward for me," Buemi said. "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."
Austrian beverage company Red Bull incredibly manages to run two teams in motorsports premier league. The teams maintain their separate identities Red Bull F1 are sticking with Renault power for 2008 while sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso will run with the Ferrari customer engine again from which it takes the Scuderia name. Torro Rosso being Italian for Red Bull.
Red Bull 2007 entrant the RB3 suffered from reliability issues in the first part of the 2007 season. This year the RB4 car is an evolution of last year's car and the team see continuity as the key to success this year. Team principal Christian Horner commented "The new car - for the first time in our short history - is an evolution, "With continuity in the design group, this winter has been the smoothest that I've seen as the group have now worked together for over a year."
In their quest for 2008 points, Red Bull for the first time in its brief F1 history has the engine continuity in its Renault powerplants. One of the main goals of the team was to improve the hydraulic systems. In 2007, many of their retirements during the campaign were due to the hydraulics failing, along with other reliability issues.
"The reliability problems didn't come as a result of chasing performance," said Newey. "They came through detailed design, manufacturing and operations faults and the reliability systems couldn't cope. We haven't had to make any compromises in that respect, it is just a matter of understanding why things were failing and what was breaking down in the system to cause them."
Horner explained "We had some inherent problems from the very beginning of 2007 with the transmission, which really came about through the late engine decision to change to Renault."
Which -- all-in-all -- means hopes are high for this season.
As Mark Webber put it, the target for 2008 was "to do better than last year".
The Australian did comment on what he felt was a main target to start the new season: "We want to start with a faster car if we can, because if you start with a quicker car, that's a good position to start the championship in," Webber said. "We want to get a lot more points than we got last year. We missed a lot of through retirements with mechanical problems, so we'll see if we can get some of those points back. That would be good."
After the unveiling of the RB4, both Coulthard and Webber were anxiously awaiting the opportunity to take laps in their new car. A coin toss determined the fate of who would handle the first installation lap on the wet Jerez circuit and the honor went to the Scotsman.
"It's great to see a new car come together," Coulthard said. "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."
The team will give the new car a complete shakedown today after spending last night putting the final touches on the RB4. "It's always a key moment to see a new car run for the first time," said team principal Christian Horner. "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".
Coulthard added, "We've had 100% reliability so far, things are looking good! I have been at a few shakedowns where we struggled to even do an installation lap."
Despite seven retirements each for both the Red Bull drivers in 2007 they did manage some good results when they did finish. Webber claimed 3rd in the European Grand Prix and Coulthard 4th in Japan. Solving the reliability problems in 2008 could see the experienced driver line up do well and the early indications look good.