The RB6 was an evolution of the teams 2009 challenger, which finished the season strongly taking the last 3 victories. Changes in the regulations for 2010 meant that refueling was banned, which increased the length of the cars and would clearly have an impact on chassis dynamics. The double deck diffusers that caused controversy in 2009 were cleared for use and would be refined around the teams usage in the previous season.
A full technical image gallery from the three tests attended by Red Bull can be found here: SomersF1 - Pre-season test RB6 technical image gallery. The second test was the scene of a new innovation from Red Bull's rival McLaren, codenamed RW80 but latterly dubbed as the F-Duct by the media, it was but one area of development in a season that would push teams to their limits. Meanwhile, Red Bull had an ace of their own hidden up their sleeve...
At the last day of pre-season testing a new exhaust was fitted to the RB6. The cheeky scamps even fitted a sticker in roughly the same position as the old one to try and fool onlookers.
|RB6 from above, you can see where Red Bull applied the stickers on the upper surface of the bodywork, whilst below you can just make out the metallic inserts used on the exhaust exits.|
|Above: The RB6 exhaust outlet up close, taken in Bahrain|
|Underside of the RB6 shows how the team had maximised the double diffuser inlets for 2010. http://www.racecar-engineering.com/articles/f1/f1-2010-european-gp-technical-updates/|
Whilst on its own the exhaust placement provided the team with additional performance it was their work with Renault that allowed them to maximise it. Ordinarily the problem with using the exhaust to energise the diffuser is that the flow is inconsistent, as coming off the throttle would mean the exhaust plume dissipates.
|Exhaust blowing was not a foreign concept to Newey, who'd been using it to improve performance for decades|
A look at the development of the RB6 as the 2010 season unfolded.... (Please note the gallery links beneath each races header image)
Round 1 - Bahrain
|Full image gallery from the Bahrain GP - http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/techf1le-red-bull-rb6.html|
Having taken pole in Bahrain, Vettel led the race comfortably until a problem with the Renault engine curtailed power. It was latterly diagnosed as a failed spark plug, which reduced the engines overall performance, with the German having to take 4th place. Meanwhile, Webber finished down in 8th having recovered from what seemed like an oil leak early in the race.
The damaged spark plug may have been the first indication of what Red Bull and Renault were doing in terms of blowing off throttle, a topic I'll cover more extensively later.
Round 2 - Australia
More trouble followed in Australian when having locked out the front row of the grid, Vettel had issues on lap 25 and retired from the race. Initially blamed on a brake failure but latterly determined to be a problem with the securing lugs. Meanwhile Webber had his own issues which saw him finish down in 9th.
|Full image gallery from the Australian GP can be found here: http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/techf1le-red-bull-racing-rb6-round-2.html|
The events that unfolded at the Australian GP led to the FIA issuing a change to the regulations, with outboard mirrors, that teams had taken to mounting on the sidepod airflow conditioners, were to be excluded from the Spanish GP, insistant they must be mounted from the monocoque instead.
More controversy was brewing too, as rival teams suspected that Red Bull were using a ride height device to achieve a different performance offset between qualifying and the race. Pictures had surfaced that showed the RB6 with a different attitude (rake) between the two sessions, with many coming to the conclusion that this provided the team with a qualifying boost.
|The Red Bull mechanics crowd around the back of the RB6 on the grid to make life difficult for anyone wanting to see what was going on at the back of the car, namely the diffuser. For a full image gallery http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/techf1le-red-bull-rb6-round-3-malaysia.html|
Red Bull opened their account in Malaysia with Sebastian Vettel taking the win, whilst Mark came in just under 5 seconds behind his counterpart to clinch 2nd place.
|As previously mentioned the wing mirror position must be amended by the fifth round in Barcelona, as such, Red Bull trialled their intended position in China - Full image gallery for the Chinese GP - http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/techf1le-red-bull-rb6-round-4-china.html|
|Vettel at the wheel of the RB6 - Full image gallery: http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/techf1le-red-bull-rb6-round-4-china.html|
Bouyed by their result in Malaysia the team had more to be pleased about when they locked out the front row in qualifying. The race didn't quite match their aspirations though, with Vettel finishing in 6th and Webber in 8th.
The Chinese GP saw the teams first major design alterations of the season with a new front wing and turning vanes put to use.
Round 5 - Spain
|Round 5 was held at the Circuit du Catalunya as F1 moved back to Europe for the first time - Full image gallery for the Spanish GP: http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/blog-page_15.html|
A return to Europe usually heralds a significant stage in the cars development, with teams able to ship much larger components more easily. NB. In recent seasons this has abated a little, as teams are able to 3D print some elements on site and we have even seen them make ad-hoc changes to larger components by cutting and shutting them.
Round 6 - Monaco
|Mark Webber rides the kerbs at the chicane. Full image gallery for the Monaco GP - http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/techf1le-red-bull-rb6-round-6-monaco-gp.html|
The team had a new rear wing mainplane available in the principality collating airflow, which would ordinarily separate owing to the shark fin. And like the Y75 slot above, displaced it to the rear surface of the wing, as the hollowed out wing created the effect of a third full span wing element, improving efficiency.
You'll note that the shape of the beam wing was also modified in order to improve rear downforce, with upswept outer sections and arrow head central section improving the aero connection between the rear wing and diffuser.
Round 7 - Turkey
|The scene of the accident, as Webber and Vettel collide. Full image gallery - http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/techf1le-red-bull-rb6-round-7-turkish.html|
Round 8 - Canada
|Sebastian Vettel at the wheel of his RB6 - Full image gallery: http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/techf1le-red-bull-rb6-round-8-canada.html|
The team returned to the front wing design used prior to Turkey but the rear wing mainplane was amended to suit the circuits characteristics.
Round 9 - European GP
|Sebastian Vettel crosses the swing bridge on the Valencia street course - Full image gallery: http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/techf1le-red-bull-rb6-round-9-european.html|
Round 10 - Great Britain
|Mark Webber at the the wheel of his RB6 at Silverstone - Full image gallery: http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/techf1le-red-bull-rb6-round-10-british.html|
The placement of these items means the previously neutral central section of the car can once again generate its own downforce and will create new aero structures which help to control the vortex shed either end of the section (Y250). As we can see in the image above (camera housings once again highlighted in green) it allows the overall surface to have a different angle of attack. Furthemore, this can be trimmed during setup as the camera housings can be angled +/- 5 degrees.
Round 11 - German GP
|Vettel at the wheel of the RB6 in Germany - Full image gallery: http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/techf1le-red-bull-rb6-round-11-german.html|
"Okay... so... Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?"
Massa duly slowed to allow Alonso passed to take victory much to the discontent of the viewing public, with team orders banned. Vettel finished in 3rd whilst an oil consumption issue meant that Webber trailed home in sixth.
Round 12 - Hungary
|Mechanics push the RB6 into the FIA scrutineering bay - Full image gallery: http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/techf1le-red-bull-rb6-round-12.html|
|The FIA's Jo Bauer inspect the RB6's front wing|
Here's a fantastic piece, written in retrospect, that accompanies the image above by @ScarbsF1 explaing the use of aeroelasticity to circumnavigate the regulations and create the desired flexi-wing: https://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/2010/07/30/aero-elasticity-%E2%80%93-red-bulls-front-wing/
Round 13 - Belgium
|Vettel at the wheel of the RB6, roll aside you can understand why teams believed the Red Bull wings were flexing - Full image gallery: http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/techf1le-red-bull-rb6-round-13-belgian.html|
Webber's pole position counted for naught come race day as he allowed the revs to drop too far as he released the clutch paddles, putting him anti-stall and demoting him to 6th. Without the Red Bull drivers to keep him in check Hamilton started to gap the field, further assisted by Vettels exhuberance to get past Lewis' McLaren team mate, resulting in Button's retirement, a pit stop to replace a tyre he'd damaged in the collision and a further trip through the pits for the drive through penalty for his role in the collision.
|A damaged tyre from the collision with Button put pay to any meaningful result for Vettel|
Round 14 - Italy
|Mark Webber at the wheel of the RB6, note the low dowforce rear wing being employed. More pictures in the full image gallery: http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/techf1le-red-bull-rb6-round-14-Italy_16.html|
Ahead of the GP the FIA instructed the teams that they may increase the test procedures introduced at the last race, as they tried to get on top of the flexi wing situation. Furthermore, as logic dictates that putting the front wing closer to the ground you must also do the same with the splitter, ergo they believed it must also be deflecting, as such the tests would cover this too.
Round 15 - Singapore
|Vettel bounces his RB6 over the kerbs in Singapore - Full image gallery: http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/blog-page_16.html|
The race got underway without either Red Bull driver making up ground, however, when a safety car slowed things down after just 4 laps the team instructed Webber to make a stop. He was concerned by the teams call but duly took on the Prime tyre and set about carving his way back through the field. Alonso and Vettel, who didn't pit under the safety car, set about building a lead to cover his charge and traded fastest laps until their simultaneous stops on lap 29. A safety car on lap 35 bunched the pack, allowing Hamilton a run on Webber along Raffles Boulevard but the two touched in turn 7.
Round 16 - Japan
|Webber's RB6 with the iconic ferris wheel in the background - Full image gallery: http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/techf1le-red-bull-rb6-round-16-japanese.html|
An accident on the way to the grid meant that Di Grassi wouldn't start the race and more incidents swiftly followed, with a further 4 drivers missing by the end of the first lap. This bought out the safety car and whilst the field began to bunch it became apparent that Kubica, who had leaped Webber at the start, was now missing, having been forced to stop when his right-rear tyre had come free. The Red Bull pushed one another hard with less than a second seperating the pair at the chequered flag. Vettel was victorious over his team-mate, while the retirement of Kubica and the subsequent finish positions of Alonso, Button and Hamilton meant that the title was still a five horse race.
Round 17 - Korea
|Sebastian Vettel behind the wheel of the RB6 at the Korean GP - Full image gallery: http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/techf1le-red-bull-rb6-round-17.html|
The safety car was deployed once more as the marshalls cleared the cars and debris, swiftly followed by the third safety car of the day. This led to a slew of tyre changes as the drivers moved from the full wet to the intermediate, at which point Alonso dropped a place to Hamilton, following a poor stop. It was all for nothing though, as the McLaren driver went deep into turn 1 as the field went back to racing speed, allowing Alonso to take the place back. Alonso had the bit between his teeth, chasing Vettel down whilst producing the fastest laps of the race. However, Vettel suffered an engine failure on lap 45 and subsequently retired. With both Red Bulls out of the race Alonso and Hamilton finishing 1st and 2nd the championship race was wide open still as Alonso now led with 2 to go.
Round 18 - Brazil
|Full image gallery for the Brazilian GP: http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/techf1le-red-bull-rb6-round-18.html|
An extraordinary display during Q3 saw Nico Hulkenberg qualify on pole for Williams, over a second quicker than the Red Bull's of Vettel and Webber.
As four of the five title hopefuls lined up in the top five for the grand prix it was shaping up to be a great race. Vettel took charge of the race into the first corner, whilst Webber dispatched of Hulkenberg in turn 4. On lap 2 Hamilton made an error in turn 4 that allowed Alonso to slip by but, he found himself caught behind Hulkenberg allowing the Red Bull drivers to build a gap. Alonso got brave on lap 7 and made the pass on the slower Williams as he had to go defensive in turn 4. Hulkenberg continued to defend against Hamilton until the pitted at the end of lap 14. Hamilton stayed out but continued to complain of a lack of grip meaning he was the first of the front runners to blink and take on fresh rubber.
A crash by Liuzzi on lap 51 bought out the safety car and bought the pack closer together once more but, with the lapped cars of Barichello and Petrov between Vettel and Webber it did little to improve the battle. Vettel took the victory with Webber 4 seconds behind, whilst the formation finish of Alonso, Hamilton and Button meant they'd all be mathematically challenging for the title at the last race.
Round 19 - Abu Dhabi
|Mark Webber wrestling with the RB6 in Abu Dhabi - Full image gallery: http://www.somersf1.co.uk/p/blog-page_26.html|
As the race got underway, both Vettel and Hamilton retained their positions but Alonso lost out to Button. A safety car owing to a collision with Schumacher and Liuzzi saw the action tempered until lap 11. Both Webber and Alonso were forced into earlier stops than they'd have liked owing to high tyre degradation, whilst Vettel and Hamilton continued to post faster times on the worn rubber. Alonso and Webber's progress, as they now lay astern, was hampered by Petrov, leaving Vettel, Hamilton and Button with the podium honours. Vettel's victory meant he led the championship for the first time and stole the title from under the noses of his counterparts.
2010 provided the teams with an immense challenge, as the rise of flexi-wings, F-Ducts and blown diffusers intensified the development battle. The diversity in these solutions meant we were treated to some very different ideas as the teams battled for supremacy. Red Bull's approach to flexible front wing design and a well engineered off throttle double diffuser gave them an advantage over many of their rivals. Their later adoption of the F-Duct solidified their charge toward victory as the RB6 became not only the best car at the apex but also one to be reckoned with on the straights.
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