3 February 2013
2013 cars won't be very exciting, predicts Newey
One area that surprised many was the stepped-nose that the RB9 still sports, even though the rules have been changed since 2012 to allow teams to fit 'vanity' or 'modesty' panels to disguise the drop between the driver cell and the maximum height of the nose of the car.
In fact the step effect is arguably even more prominent in this year's design, since its predecessor used a letterbox-style hole on the top of the bodywork to provide cooling for the car and driver, which had the side-effect of disguising the height difference between the two parts of the car.
"We have a vanity panel but it doesn't extend very far forward otherwise it becomes unjustifiable in weight," Newey explained.
The designer also revealed that the RB9 wasn't going to take advantage of any form of 'passive DRS' system - or rather, "some speed-sensitive device, whatever that might be, to augment the DRS effect". At least, not right away.
Despite dubbing it "an interesting area" that would be explored, Newey explained: "It's also, for sure, a very tricky area: getting a signal that's reliable, that withstands following another car without being triggered at moments that would be embarrassing.
Newey said it would be difficult "to make sure that overall, it is - once you've taken into account installing it and so forth - a positive gain on balance through the weekend," he explained of his reticence to jump into it too soon. "None of those things are astraightfoward. So we have investigated it. I'm not prepared to say what we may or may not do during the season."
There are other areas of the car that Newey has in mind to continue working on over the course of the forthcoming season.
“The front of the car, the nose, front wing can be changed relatively easily as developments," he offered. "The middle of the car, the gearbox, the rear suspension, that's the bit that really would be a huge effort to change during the season - that's the bit you want to ensure is as good as possible.
"The rest you can develop as the year goes on," he added. "There's still a lot of unknowns."
Instead of singling out new features on the car, Newey deflected enquiries by suggesting that the biggest factor impacting car performance this season is likely to come from a different area altogether.
"Probably the most significant change is not the regulations, but the new Pirelli tyres," he said. "We had a quick test with those in practice ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix, but in truth we didn't learn a lot because of the conditions.
"Pirelli have supplied us data about how the new tyres behave but past experience tells us that it's only when we go testing that we really find out," he added.
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