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Newey explains Red Bull's take on stepped nose

ESPN Staff
February 3, 2013 « Webber certain of title chance | 'We all start again from zero' - Vettel »
The Red Bull RB9 has a vanity panel but still has a step in the nose © Red Bull Racing

Red Bull's chief technical officer Adrian Newey has explained the thinking behind the RB9's stepped nose, which despite appearances does feature a small vanity panel.

After safety regulations lowered the height of the cars' noses last year, most teams designed ugly stepped noses where the nose cone joined the monocoque. This year the FIA has allowed teams to fit a non-structural fairing - known as a vanity panel - to the front of the cars to smooth the noses out without compromising safety.

Force India, Ferrari and McLaren have all fitted vanity panels that completely conceal the stepped noses on their cars, but Red Bull has taken a different approach in order to minimise the added weight.

"There is a vanity panel," Adrian Newey explained at the launch of the RB9. "The letterbox [opening in the RB8's stepped nose last year] was really a solution to try and reduce the step so it was cooling the electronic boxes at the back and the sidepods as well as the driver.

"This year with the vanity panel allowed we've got rid of the letterbox and put a vanity panel in but as you can see it doesn't extend a huge way forwards otherwise it becomes unjustifiable in weight."

However, Newey said the team's main focus in testing would be on the new Pirelli tyres, which feature a new structure and softer compounds for 2013.

"I think it will be continuing to understand the tyres," he said. "Every time we thought we understood them last year some fresh surprise would come, and the change in the tyres will be interesting this year so I'm sure that will be a huge learning area. The rest I think will be very much a detailed evolution of the aerodynamics and trying to tune the car to the drivers' liking."