Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2022

First pictures: Red Bull finally reveals its aggressive new F1 car for 2022

2022 F1 season

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Red Bull has finally revealed the real RB18, its new car for the 2022 Formula 1 season.

The team presented a show car in its latest livery for the upcoming season two weeks ago. But it has kept the real RB18 under wraps, conducting a shakedown test behind closed doors at Silverstone last week, before revealing its genuine car today.

The RB18 immediately caught the eye as its hit the track at the Circuit de Catalunya on the first day of pre-season testing. Its sidepods are steeply cut away beneath its air intakes, and appear to have only recently been completed, having not been fully painted.

Last year Max Verstappen ended the domination of the world championship by Mercedes drivers, beating Lewis Hamilton to the title in a controversial end to the season in Abu Dhabi. As the champion, he has chosen to use the number one on his car this year, replacing the number 33 he has used every season since his debut in 2015.

Team principal Christian Horner said that “RB18 has seen the biggest team effort in the history of our team. I think that 2021 was so demanding, going all the way down to mid-December. So to have to turn this around and build, design and manufacture this car has been an enormous effort and is testimony to the long hours and the hard work that’s gone in behind the scenes in the factory and on the campus in Milton Keynes that we’re here today with this incredible new machine.

“I think this car, because the regulations are so immature, it’s going to develop rapidly and it’s going to be fascinating to see the different concepts that the different teams have taken on board,” Horner added. “And it’s going to be a battle of development between the first race in Bahrain and the last race in Abu Dhabi.”

He said that there was a clear advantage to maintaining the Red Bull driver line up over the course of such a big change in regulations. “I think they demonstrated last year what a strong pairing they are, and I think that I expect that to grow this year. Checo in his second season with the team and of course, with such a big regulation change, you want your two drivers working together as one unit, and that’s tremendously important to us.”

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Pictures: 2022 Red Bull RB18

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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66 comments on “First pictures: Red Bull finally reveals its aggressive new F1 car for 2022”

  1. Aggressive? Why?

    1. @falken, one of the things is for sure the pull rod front suspension. Only McLaren went with it as well, and some technicians doubt it is really worth it. But they also seem to have other “tricks” when compared to cars seen so far…

      However, I’m sure that most, if not all, the cars running these days will have different bits and pieces as compared to what was shown before…

    2. I thinks it’s the extreme undercut of the sidepods

  2. Wow, those Red Bull sidepods and undercut… so extreme, and totally different again to what others are doing.
    No wonder they kept it secret for so long.

    Not a fan of the panel below the OR of Oracle though.

    1. My guess would be that that small bulb under ‘OR’ is maybe a sensor and I wonder if the bare carbon is going to stay that way or if they’re going to paint it later. Maybe it’s going to stay, but some parts seem very development-spec (no sponsor on the rear wing?) to me.

      1. True, also on the close-ups in the pitlane, may very well be the case

    2. Michael Goulding
      23rd February 2022, 8:27

      Pull rod front suspension like McLaren, how interesting

  3. Certainly didn’t disappoint. Other than the aero which I assume is meant to give an aggressive downwash to seal the floor, there’s some very interesting geometry there with the angle of the front wishbones.

  4. Front wings seems to be like Mercedes, side pods looks aggressive and that floor, wow. I hope Peter and scarb get together for this.

    1. Peter and Scarb were taking a bit more time maybe they discover a lot. But the video should be on tonight.

  5. They left the DRS flap part unmarked, after all.

  6. Kinda makes a mockery of the “launches” doesn’t it.

    That’s why I really didn’t bother checking the photos from launches all that much. Teams don’t show their hand these days until the last possible moment.

    I even expect some to bolt on different configs during the testing.

    1. Certainly stands in sharp contrast to their previous insistence that they were showing the real car at the launch event when they have now said that it really was just a livery launch on an FOM show car.

      1. Do you have any source for that assessment.

        1. I too would like to see the quotes where they were insistent that they were showing the real car at the launch event.

          1. “anon” often make these kind of “informed” remarks but seldom delivers when asked for a source other then his thumb.
            A bit putin tr oll like…

        2. You mean other than Red Bull’s tweeting about “Introducing the lean, mean, #RB18” when it was nothing of the sort?

          1. It looks mean but now if that means fast … that will be know the first race.

  7. I seem to not understand how F1 rules work. But have Red Bull and Mercedes not effectively replaced their bargeboards with extensions of the floor? Those bulbous, rising things below the sidepods are like bargeboards attached to the floor. Looks so weird, never seen that in F1 before.

    1. I think that falls in the grey legal area with the bargeboard. I think the Bulbous are sensors.

      1. @macleod That or they’re IR cameras watching the tyre tread to see how it’s heating up.

        1. @optimaximal You could be right on the IR camera as their position can “see”a lot.

  8. All the cars look very different this year, both in terms of liveries and the physical hardware.

    It’s going to be fascinating to see which boffins have come up with the best engineering solutions, and then see the evolution of these cars over the next few seasons. I’m pretty disappointed that testing won’t be televised because a wad of notes has been handed over to claim bragging rights for the full season launch – but I understand there will be roundups on Sky F1 at the end of the day, so at least there is that.

    But it’s all very exciting and I’m expecting team scrutineers to be complaining about other teams’ approach to the regs, whilst at the same time trying to copy it (within budget, of course).

    1. @geekzilla9000 I believe only the first test isn’t being covered by TV, largely because F1 didn’t want a repeat of the first test in 2014, where every car except Mercedes was constantly breaking down or catching fire.

      1. I don’t think its largely because of that, actually, almost nothing to do with that. Why would cars be breaking down left and right because of a change to the aero regs? 2014 unreliability was because of the huge change to the PU regs. what we’re seeing today is entirely to do with Bahrain giving F1 a huge wedge of cash to have the 2nd test, at their circuit, as the only televised event.

  9. It looks really a creepy design. Different from all.

    1. It’s Redbull so it must be creepy.

  10. That car looks FAST

    1. Yeah, that was my initial impression. I’m no Scarbs, and I don’t know what they’re trying to achieve with what. But it looks quick, and the mantra ‘if it looks fast, it probably is’ often holds up. Of course, there’s always an Andrea Moda to disprove it.

  11. It has a kind of unfinished quality to it. It would imply that they have been working on a final design right up until now. Maybe they still don’t have the final one.

    It’s not a particularly attractive solution to the side pod question. But no one will care much if it delivers more than anyone else.

  12. They don’t like being called “aggressive” ;)

  13. But they were so focussed on 2021 they didn’t have time to develop a proper 2022 car, they said.

    1. @sjaakfoo Yeah RBR clearly haven’t spent any time developing the car. I’d love to know how well they did this week in their testing.

  14. First of all, I love the fact that two of the top teams have come up with completely different philosophy to the design of sidepods – Ferrari having the most robust ones & Red Bull the most compact (with Mercedes somewhere between the two) – and I hope it somehow works for both teams in a way they anticipate in their respective working designs. At the same time, there is already a fear lurking back inside my head that Ferrari have simply done a poor job again and will start the new era with deficit once again (though their car & its livery are the best-looking by a mile).

    1. @Kotrba

      Tossing the flow outwards, rather than redirecting it back in is probably the more conservative approach. I suspect that it has less room to improve, by doing neat tricks with that air at the rear.

  15. The rear wing sponsor can’t be happy, no way to read that from any normal shots.

  16. “beating Lewis Hamilton to the title in a controversial end to the season in Abu Dhabi.”
    Do you really have to repeat the same sentence over and over again? Get over it.

    1. It’s Keith, so it’s standard by now.

    2. You stole the title AND demand the respect and of the paddock, and expect us to not mention it because it’s inconvenient and uncomfortable for you to hear? Nah, sorry, you don’t get a whitewash. The number one decal on that car isn’t respected or earned. So Keith, please keep mentioning it

      1. A real Hamfan is see.. little knowledge of F1 and lots of social media info gathered in his own channels.
        Reality is different form your perspective.. but it does not matter, its still funny ;)

    3. @wernervonrode @jazz yes Werner, why did you steal the title?!

      1. @jazz @wernervonrode @hahostolze I would like to know too who stole that Jules Rimet

    4. You will probably have to get used to it. It is what it is.

      1. Yes to say it wasn’t controversial…….hilarious.!

  17. Testing is interesting so far. Leclerc fastest with a 1:20.1. Less than 2 seconds slower than the best FP1 time in Barcelona last year…)

    1. Morning session done:

      Leclerc, Ferrari, 1m20.165s (80 laps)
      Norris, McLaren, 1m20.474s
      Russell, Mercedes, 1m20.784s (77 laps)
      Vettel, Aston Martin, 1m21.276s (52 laps)
      Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, 1m21.638s
      Verstappen, Red Bull, 1m22.246s (80 laps)
      Alonso, Alpine, 1m23.317s (54 laps)
      Latifi, Williams, 1m23.379s
      Mazepin, Haas, 1m24.505s
      Kubica, Alfa Romeo, 1m25.909s (9 laps)

      *can’t find data for all the laps covered but those are the ones I’ve got

  18. The fact that RBR and Ferrari came up with radical interpretations of the sidepod areas doesn’t bold well for the FIA/FOM vision of restrictive rules to close the gaps between the top teams and the midfield. There are already visible different car concepts let alone the other innovations underneath the bodywork and who can adapt better to the simplification of the suspension systems…

    1. @tifoso1989 The main goal of the rules was to:
      – reduce the reliance on top-surface aero (by using venturi tunnels)
      – reduce the effect of turbulent air on following cars (largely by creating a rooster tail wake that throws any turbulence upwards)
      and
      – achieve this within the budget cap.

      What direction the teams went to achieve this was always up to them & there was never actually many prescriptive rules or requirements – that was just prominent aero engineers trying to get the rules watered down in their favour.

      The only bit that concerns me is Ross Brawn naively assuming that teams won’t seek to redirect some of the wake back downwards towards following cars to affect them as much as possible – after all, it’s probably what he would do!

    2. @tifoso1989 Different concept but it did immediately remind me of the Ferrari. Both radical (excellent to see). I agree with @optimaximal about the rationale of the new regulations, though, the main question being to reduce air turbulence for cars behind. And to introduce even bigger, fatter tyres. Because… (?)

      1. @optimaximal
        Thanks for the comment ! BTW, Brawn has been talking nonsense since he become the sport director. It’s true that the aim of the 2022 rules is not only to reduce the rear wake but also to eject it over the following car, but equally there is nothing in the rules that says that designers won’t lose any opportunity to redirect the wake to the following car.

        @david-br
        Mario Isola with his statement has a part of the answer to your question. “I believe it’s part of the process that Liberty Media started a few years ago to give an image to Formula 1 – a more modern image”.

        Another reason is that Pirelli wants to get the F1 knowledge of the 18″ tyres that are the closest to what they are actually selling for road cars free of charge. If they can work out how to make tyres that can sustain the mighty downforce F1 levels and perform accordingly then making tyres that can sustain the additional loads of Electric Vehicles will be a child play.

        1. @tifoso1989 I know! I guess it’s understandable but totally questionable from a racing point of view (weight etc.).

    3. @tifoso1989 I think you are misunderstanding Brawn along with the teams, and their intention. While of course we know that the rules are more restrictive than ever, at the same time the teams were only going to agree to so much restriction or it ‘isn’t F1’ and at the same time Brawn himself is well aware that they have to keep the DNA in F1. Brawn, as a highly successful TP himself is fully aware of the fact that teams will go to the nth degree to find loopholes, which is why he spoke of going to more lengths than F1 ever has to ensure the teams won’t find some sort of magic innovation that sets them high above the rest, particularly for years.

      If you have decided that due to the visual differences in the cars then there seems to be less restriction than has been talked about, it could be that there was some fear mongering from some team members and many fans that F1 was going ‘spec’ which was never the case. If it was too spec for the teams they simply wouldn’t have signed off on these cars as they are, based on the rules as they’ve been set out. I would think if we are discovering that there was actually less restriction than we thought, fans should be thrilled by that. At the same time I would not at all be surprised if the likes of Adrian Newey still find the restrictions to be too much. Just because the side pods are appearing different amongst the teams doesn’t mean they don’t still wish they had more scope to innovate in many other areas.

      I am insulted on Brawn’s behalf that you think he has been talking nonsense from the start, and I think it is you that is simply not registering what is going on here. “It’s true that the aim of the 2022 rules is not only to reduce the rear wake but also to eject it over the following car, but equally there is nothing in the rules that says that designers won’t lose any opportunity to redirect the wake to the following car.” While true, you are missing the point. Brawn and his team have tried to prevent the teams from finding loopholes to do just as you suggest. On top of that, the cars are now so drastically different than before with the ground effects concept in play, that Brawn is likely quite confident that even though he is well aware that teams will try their hardest to continue to make as much dirty air as possible, the fact is they won’t likely get too far with that, such are their restrictions in that regard. There’s only so much they are going to be able to do to make more dirty air, let along direct it back downward, and of course the cars themselves will be much less sensitive to dirty air with which to begin.

      The intention is to go from cars losing 50% of their performance while in dirty air, to something more like 20%. Who knows what the final approximation will be once they are racing in anger with their actual race ready cars, but even if it is 25% loss in performance, that is a huge stride and a huge help towards closer racing. So I think you have misunderstood Brawn’s intentions from the start, intentions that the teams had a say in, in that the cars are not spec, and nor is Brawn naive to the fact that the teams are going to try everything they can think of to benefit themselves and harm others’ chances. He was always well aware of this and has prepared for many scenarios. There is nothing anybody can teach Brawn about F1 and how it works given his vast experience over many years. It is why he was hired. It is why he knew they had to get away from aero-downforce clean-air-dependent cars. Have some respect for the man.

      1. Completely agree @robbie. I don’t know why the need to disrespect/insult the likes of Ross Brawn keeps coming up even before there’s any concrete evidence that his group’s aims have not been realized. If anything, I thought fans would be happy that the “very prescriptive” rules have resulted in such a variety of interpretations with the resulting excitement of seeing who did the best job of all. So much negativity on day 1 of testing is quite frankly very strange.

  19. It looks like the design philosophy behind the RB18 was totally focused on aerodynamics. It looks like it cuts through the air like butter. Don’t know what this means for handling and downforce, but this could become the fastest car on the straights.

  20. How do the times compare to testing last year?

    1. @icarby Much, much quicker. Several seconds up on testing from day 1 last year. Mainly because testing last year was held in Bahrain ;-)

      But the comparison with the last test at Barcelona, the 2020 cars, they’re a smidge over 3 seconds slower so far, and just under 3.5 seconds off last year’s pole time, and just over 2 seconds off what they did in FP1 last year.

  21. @icarby @petebaldwin has kindly posted above. Leclerc is about two seconds off last years FP1 pace, not sure about testing. Of course, very early days. I imagine there’s just a lot of systems / cooling / tyre temp checks going on.

    1. @bernasaurus – Ahh so he has, thanks both. I was curious as there will be some adapting to be done, along with aero validation work and the other bits they do.

  22. Nice, waiting for Kyle Engineers on YouTube to analyse it

    1. @jeorge – Hahah same here :)

  23. Looks like a more extreme version of the Alpha Tauri, almost as if the AT was an older concept.

  24. Front wishbone links angle are… omg

  25. I thought F1 was an open wheel formula.
    They have bodywork extending above the front wheels.

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