Red Bull Racing designer Adrian Newey has admitted that the latest set of Formula One regulations allowed him to exercise his abilities, albeit not to excess.
Discussing the creation of the RB5, the team's 2009 challenger built to a rulebook that limits aerodynamic influence via revised front and rear wing dimensions and the elimination of extraneous aero devices, reintroduces slick tyres and allows the use of KERS technology - amongst other changes - Newey admitted that the team could start with a clean sheet of paper in most areas.
"2009 arguably sees the biggest rule change since flat bottoms were introduced in 1983, a very major change," he explains, "We have taken a clean sheet, 'blue sky' approach [to the design], looking at the implications of these rules and how to interpret them, while not changing things simply for the sake of it. However, apart from the gearbox internals, there is hardly any carry over from the RB4."
The revised aero package mandated by the rules has provoked the most debate, with enlarged front and reduced rear wings giving the cars a somewhat unusual appearance.
"The front wing is oddly proportioned!" Newey admits, "It's lower and wider and, to my eye, looks like an indoor go-kart.
"The idea is that the centre of the front wing is most susceptible to disturbance and this solution makes the centre very neutral, while the tips of the wide-span wing are heavily loaded.
"The lack of appendages such as winglets, barge boards and so on causes a loss of downforce, but they don't affect the fundamental behaviour of the car. However, the behaviour will be different, because of the front wing and the diffuser, which is now moved further back and is higher. Being alongside the rear wheels, instead of in front of them, it now works in a different way.”
The return of slick tyres after years of running with grooves is less of a challenge for the designers.
"The main area of change with going back to slicks tyres was in terms of weight distribution, as it will put greater strain on the rear tyres. So, at the design stage, we moved the weight distribution forward a bit."
Technical director Geoff Willis confirms that the balance between stress on front and rear rubber will change dramatically in 2009.
"The conversion from grooved to slick tyres of the same dimensions has led to a substantial mismatch with the front tyres too strong for the rears," he reveals, "However, there was some resistance to changing this since the new aerodynamic regulations had been developed around the existing tyre sizes.