There was an element of ‘now you see it, now you don’t’ around the launch of Red Bull’s latest challenger, the RB16B.
The narrow nose is subtly different in the way the pillars attach to the wing (which is still very much outboard-loaded) – and the nose itself may actually be even narrower than before, though it’s difficult to be certain because of the angle of the photographs.
The cape beneath the nose has been reshaped. It’s now slightly smaller and begins a little further back. Certainly this whole area was felt to be at the centre of the initially tricky low-speed handling of last year’s car, and it was later found that the vortices produced from the wing, nose and cape could interfere with each other at low car speeds, potentially resulting in a sudden reduction of rear grip. A reshape and reduction in the dimensions of the cape suggests possibly a less critical airflow in that area as it makes its way from the front wing to the barge boards and underfloor.
The sidepods appear to have been subtly reshaped too, with a slightly more aggressive downward slope, as the aerodynamicists will have been trying very hard to claw back the rear downforce lost through regulation change.
From a team that have run newly-launched challengers in camouflage livery in the past, there’s certainly always an element of guessing as to what’s going on at this stage of pre-season with their latest design.
In any case, with Red Bull determined to start particularly strongly this year against Mercedes, there is certainly no need for them to give away anything more than they absolutely need to before day one of pre-season testing