F1 2021 Car Reveals: Red Bull RB16B – The same but the same?

The second of the big four teams has made its car’s debut ahead of Red Bull’s permitted filming day. The timing of the launch came as a small surprise, announced just 15 minutes before the unveiling on the Austrian Outfit’s Twitter.

Images of the revised vehicle are scarce, with just two images being posted alongside a flashy video that was anything but bright.

The RB16B

Left: RB16 in Abu Dhabi, Right: RB16B at launch

Upon first, second and third glances it seems as though the team have just rolled out the same car in a livery lacking Aston Martin’s branding. Digging a little deeper, the 16B uses an identical front wing and nose combination to those used last time out, also opting not to spend development tokens on altering the nose as Alfa Romeo did. The brake ducts of the B-spec car have a smaller, less rectangular frontal area than before, though this is probably due to cooling requirements of the UAE rather than any fundamental concept shift. The s-duct and aero bridge system used last year also reappears visually identical above the pushrod ends.

Looking at the roll hoop from this angle and applying some light manipulation of the images yields the following insight into the Honda PU this season. Previously the smaller air channel was placed at the top of the air intake, it has either been moved to the bottom or the PU element fed by this channel has needed additional airflow for 2021.

This angle also reveals the removal of the fins added to the driver headrest area to direct airflow used for cooling and mitigate the halo’s effect.

Cagily, and as alluded to in a tweet after launch, the new car is very much the same, with small changes as forced by the regulations in place, but no more than that. The intricate bargeboard setup looks to be virtually identical to the RB16. One area of interest and uncharacteristic change is the floor edge. Red Bull have cut the size down as is required, but there seems to be a solution to the banned slots found by the Buckinghamshire based team.

RB16B Floor Detail

Along the edge of the floor by the sidepod inlet is what seems to be some raised pieces of carbon following on from the outboard edge of the bargeboard assembly. The assembly attaches on the bottom of the outermost turning vanes, then extends to the required upturned edge of the floor. In placing these new vanes here, Red Bull might have found a way to generate the crucial vortices that seal the floor on their high rake concept. These slots also seem to be driven by the upturned fins flanking the Red Bull logo.

On the rear of the car, much seems the same as previously, suggesting the team is concentrating on 2022 to make the leap up to serious title contenders.

To get caught up with all the latest car launches, make sure to check out our other analysis pieces on the sister AlphaTauri and the 2021 Alfa Romeo.

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