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The COAT - Round One - Red Bull RB8 vs Red Bull RB9

For the twenty-second match in Round One, the seeding gods have thrown us consecutive Red Bull iterations up against each other. The RB8 vs the RB9.

Red Bull RB8 (snaplap.net):
The Red Bull RB8 was the car with which Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing won their third consecutive Formula 1 World Championship title in 2012.

Red Bull Racing dominated Formula 1 in the early 2010s and RB7 was particularly impressive during 2011. However, a new car had to go through a major development once the blown diffuser was removed. That change hit Red Bull harder than any other team. During the first pre-season test it was clear that RB8 lacks balance. For the final pre-season test, the layout uniquely featured a channel underneath the side pod to feed the center of the diffuser. The team continued to develop the layout, exploiting more and more downforce. The performance of the car became better but obviously, it was just a fraction of what could have been achieved one year before.

Just before the last third of the season, Red Bull brought in an update that was decisive when it comes to championship – a new nose, a double DRS system, and improved wings made that car stronger.

The last race of the season was rainy Brazilian Grand Prix. The battle between Vettel and Alonso culminated after German collided with Bruno Senna on the first lap and dropped to the back of the grid. Spaniard was close to winning the title but not for a long time. Vettel recovered quickly and was able to finish the race in 6th place. Alonso finished 2nd which wasn’t enough for the title as he finished the season three points behind the Red Bull driver who had his third trophy in a row.

The Red Bull RB8 wasn’t as impressive as its predecessor. The other teams were more competitive in 2012, so RB8 had a harder task en route to the trophies. In 2012, the Red Bull RB8 drivers won 7 out of 20 races in 2012 (Vettel 5, Webber 2). The team had a total of 14 podiums, 8 pole positions (Vettel 6, Webber 2) and 7 fastest laps (Vettel 6, Webber 1).

Red Bull RB9 (goodwood.com):
When you look back at it in general the 2010-2013 period looks like absolute dominance from the Red Bull team, Sebastian Vettel and design legend Adrian Newey. But in 2010 and 2012 they didn’t have it all their own way. Fernando Alonso could, and arguably should, have dragged a slower Ferrari to the crown in 2012 and would have won the championship in 2010 were it not for an inability to pass Vitaly Petrov at the last race of the season. In 2011 and 2013 though, Red Bull did dominate. The RB7 in 2011 won 12 of the 19 races it was entered in, with Sebastian Vettel romping to his second championship title so say thanks to a rather controversial blown diffuser. But the RB7 is just pipped [in the seeding] by the RB9, the car that won what is looking more and more like Sebastian Vettel’s final title. Not only did the RB9 win 13 of the 19 races it entered (one more than the RB7) but it won a record nine victories in a row to end the season. Amazingly about five races into the season it was looking like another close one. Vettel only won two of the first five rounds, with Alonso claiming the other two. By the eighth round Vettel had only won three and was pretty much neck and neck with Alonso. But then something clicked, possibly new tyre compounds from Pirelli, and Vettel won 10 of the last 11 rounds and the title at an absolute canter.

The more amazing thing about the RB9 is that it probably could have been even better. Powered by a Renault engine that even then was really just OK compared to Ferrari and Mercedes, Adrian Newey later admitted that development work on the RB9 had been delayed by the intense title fight in 2012. Red Bull had focused efforts on the RB8 for longer than originally planned and the RB9 arrived potentially under developed. That it went on to break F1 records makes you wonder just how fast it would have been with a full development programme. It’s a scary thought.



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