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Not late this time: Newey's new Red Bull F1 hits the track ahead of schedule

Over the years, F1 design guru Adrian Newey has developed a reputation for keeping cars in development until the 11th hour - 11.

Not late this time: Newey's new Red Bull F1 hits the track ahead of schedule

Over the years, F1 design guru Adrian Newey has developed a reputation for keeping cars in development until the 11th hour - 11.99th hour at times - before releasing it to the track.

The idea is to have extra time in the wind tunnel to find the fractions of a second of performance- and also to keep the opposition guessing for as long as possible. The later the car comes out, the less time they have to copy his design group's ideas ahead of the season.

Sometimes this has caught out his teams, as reliability issues in testing have needed to be fixed and this has meant that the start to the season wasn't perfect.

Clearly there has been an edict for 2018 that the car has to be ready to go as soon as the gates open on the Barcelona test and Red Bull duly ran the car today in the rain at Silverstone, as if to prove the point.

It's a nice looking car in its 2018 test livery. What one notices, as with last year's Ferrari design, is the very highly curated work, especially around the sidepods. Whereas items like front wings are kept under wraps until the testing starts, the level of work that has gone into the aerodynamic journey down the side of the car and under the floor are quite clear.

That said, the noises coming from the team appear to be that they won't be at their maximum at the outset of the season as they wait for some developments from the Renault power unit, with suggestions it could relate to the energy regeneration side.

But with McLaren also using the engine, in a new relationship, we'll see what expectation management messages they come out with, if any. Renault won't say anything when they launch their car tomorrow (Feb 20th) at noon UK time.

Red Bull had a very strong spell towards the end of last season, with strong wins for Max Verstappen in Malaysia and Mexico, but they had to throttle the engine back a bit for reliability reasons at the very end of the season.

Their competitiveness this year hinges on that Renault power unit - the same one as McLaren and the works Renault team are using. Once they are able to run it at the maximum, Red Bull should be competing for wins with Mercedes and Ferrari. If they aren't able to start at 100%, the question will be how long before they can and will the championship be lost by then?

Where Red Bull goes from there is also very interesting. It's not been the easiest relationship with Renault to say the least in the last few seasons, despite winning four world championships together between 2010-13.

Sister team Toro Rosso has the Honda engine now and Red Bull will be monitoring the progress of that unit over the winter and through the season.

It would be a rich irony if they were to become the works Honda team in 2019, especially if they were ahead of McLaren, who had surrendered the works Honda deal for a customer Renault deal like the one Red Bull had..

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. The beauty of the situation with three leading teams all using the same engine this season is that we will now have a clear idea of who's doing the best job on the aerodynamics side - and who has the best drivers.

Photos: Red Bull Media & LAT Images

What do you think of the new Red Bull car? Do you think Verstappen and Ricciardo will be able to win races in 2018? Leave your comments below

Where will Red Bull Racing finish in the 2018 F1 Constructors' championship?
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