While it’s frustrating to watch the launch of Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s 2013 F1 contender without being allowed to take any pictures (yes, that’s right, come see our shiny new car but you can’t touch), there is some consolation in RBR’s catalogue of launch content – namely the video ‘RB9 Rythym of the Factory’.
Drinking from a coffee carton will never be the same again. And given the closed nature of today’s launch, this video might be the best clue you’ll get of how good the RB9 will be in 2013. As tweeted by the team, “Our new car has been born – weighing in at 642kg. Adrian and baby are both doing well.”
You can tell the relationship between Infiniti and Red Bull Racing is much stronger this year by the overriding purple-ness of the RB9, which goes very well in a Farrow-and-Ball paint-card kind of way.
The relationship with Red Bull Racing is more than just a brand partnership though. Infiniti will share its technical capabilities with the team – which might sound like a load of PR hogwash, given Red Bull Racing are now triple world champions, but the resources of a car company (even one as modest as Infiniti) are still considerably more than an F1 team.
One way in which this technical collaboration could develop is through the development of ‘energy recovery systems’ – Infiniti produces the fastest accelerating hybrid production car (M35h) and the newly-launched (355bhp) Q50h is likely to extend this mantle still further.
The twin-turbo 1.6-litre V6 engines for F1 in 2014 will draw upon this knowledge, especially in the development of the battery and KERS technologies, something that proved a weak-link in Red Bull Racing’s armour during 2012.
Infiniti believes that rotating its technical staff through the F1 environment will bring benefits in development processes and performance expertise. This process was recently tested when Infiniti Red Bull Racing drivers Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Buemi had a hands-on role test driving and developing the new Infiniti Q50 saloon.
Infiniti already has engineering personnel working at the team’s Milton Keynes HQ, and they’re determined to see 2013 as the turning point in their partnership with the team.
Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Technical Director, Adrian Newey, said the new RB9 is an evolution of last year’s championship winning RB8, replete with stepped-nose, which Newey explained they had no intention to ‘fix’ since it would add a few unnecessary ‘grams’ to the weight of the car.
As always, the devil is in the detail and there’s much going on beneath the surface of the RB9, particularly in the way it optimises the Pirelli tyres, which are new for 2013.
During the launch, Sebastian Vettel was asked rather mischievously, “Seb, what are you plans for world domination this year?”, to which the three-time champion responded, “I’m German, but I didn’t say that. I have no moustache…”
Vettel has yet to name his new car, preferring to wait until after the first few pre-season tests.
We’ll soon know what kind of mistress the RB9 is to be when testing gets underway tomorrow in Jerez, Spain.