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Formula 1 | Which show car is behind the F1 design of the “RB18”.

Yesterday’s launch of the Red Bull RB18 was eagerly awaited, but hopes of a glimpse of a first real Formula 1 car for 2022 have been pretty dashed. Because little was shown of what Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will start the race with. Instead, a modified version of the show car that has been known for months was on display.

Even team boss Christian Horner admitted at the launch that the bolide will no longer be the same when it comes to the Grands Prix: “When we get to the first race, the RB18 will hardly look like it does today,” he says. “Development will be pretty quick as the season progresses.”

There was really no reason for much deception as just looking at the RB18 design made it clear that it was based on the geometry of the demonstrator that FOM had made available to all teams for promotional purposes.

Formula 1 had produced several versions of the show car and renderings to promote the new generation of vehicles. These are not all identical: the front wing, nose and sidepods are all slightly different to show that the new rules can introduce differences in the field.

Comparing the RB18 to the show car, you can see the resemblance of the sidepod to one of the renderings presented alongside the real car at Silverstone last year. The roll bar, the lack of DRS, the shape of the underbody and the design of the rear wing are also very similar.

However, one difference is that the FOM rendering shows a front wing with the maximum allowed four elements, but Red Bull’s version shows the older rule variant with three elements. Formula 1 had not aggressively advertised the three-element version, but had one of them in their headquarters, as shown by pictures on social media.

So the RB18 has yet to be seen, which means the car will be under even more scrutiny at the first pre-season test in Barcelona. It will be interesting to see what the Milton Keynes team will come up with – especially when it comes to some of the key design aspects.

Sticking point suspension

A key area for many is suspension – and that’s why the teams keep a big secret. While there has been speculation that some of Red Bull’s competitors might switch to pullrod suspension at the front of their cars, Red Bull could actually go the opposite way and make a switch the other way at the rear.

One option that the teams have been looking at, and which could also be used on the Red Bull, is a pushrod rear suspension to better take advantage of the underbody and diffuser design.

Such a move would be in stark contrast to the reintroduction of the pullrod layout at the rear of the RB5 during the last major change in aerodynamics regulations in 2009. Red Bull’s move back then was a must-have for the design of all subsequent cars, as the other teams quickly recognized that the layout matched the applicable regulations.

In this particular case, however, this caused some problems for Red Bull, realizing that they would also have to rely on the double diffuser that Brawn’s eventual world champions had.

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