Red Bull test new camouflage design: what are they hiding?

F1 car Red Bull are no stranger to doing things differently. It is one of the great secrets behind their success.

However, as pre season testing kicked off this week, they showed that they’re willing to go further than ever. Despite their slow start at last year’s pre-season testing, they were first off the mark this year. In 2014, they only managed one lap at the end of the session, suggesting any number of problems. This year they set the pace and notched up the second timed lap.

However, there was one thing wildly unexpected and it has caught the attention of the motoring world. Rather than the blue and red we know and love, the car appeared in complete camouflage livery. Inspired by a helmet that Sebastian Vettel had worn last year, Red Bull extended the colour scheme. The spectators, officials and teams looked on in wonder at the Jerez circuit in Spain. After the excitement calmed down, some began asking themselves: “why camouflage”?

To many F1 commentators and followers, it’s obvious; they’re hiding something. Red Bull have always been notoriously secretive when it comes to design. Naturally, in F1, winning comes down to the smallest of details in the cars. Squeezing a little extra horsepower out of the engine. Shaving the smallest millimeter from the nose of chassis. Increasing the downforce and aerodynamics in any small way possible. It is these changes and details that wins championships.

As testing kicks off, it’s no surprise that Red Bull are keeping the details of their design secret. For a long time, Red Bull has tried to keep eyes off their cars. Before races, their mechanics would often stand in front of key parts of the car. This would keep photographers away from the most important aspects. Of course, it is impossible to stop them once the cars are out on the track. It’s even more difficult when they’re entirely covered with camouflage livery.

Red Bull, in particular, have a point to prove this year. After four consecutive constructor championships between 2010-2013, the crown slipped. The unbeatable combination of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were finally dethroned in 2014. Not only that, but they slipped by a landslide. Mercedes, with 2014 driver champion Lewis Hamilton at the helm, ran away with the title. They finished a whole 300 points ahead of Red Bull.

This year, Red Bull return with the hugely promising Ricciardo leading the charge. With the departure of Sebastian Vettel to Ferrari, Daniil Keyvat steps into his shoes. The Previous Toro Rosso driver finished 15th in the driver rankings last year. Not bad for a debut in a Toro Rosso. Looks like all the drivers are building their courage for the year ahead. It was Ricciardo that got behind the wheel of Red Bull’s camouflage car this week and reinstated their position. After blaming the Renault engine for last year’s failure, they have made it more powerful. Of course, that comes with its own difficulties in harnessing it.

The camouflage livery is more than just a gimmick. Essentially, its purpose is to hide a new set of changes and testing by Red Bull. They are working on a number of bodywork changes designed to harness the power of the faster engine. Using this camouflage colouring makes it almost impossible to see the changes. However, our experts have analysed the photos and we think we know what’s going on. Today, we’ll let you in on the secrets that Red Bull are hiding.

Formula One cars rely, of course, on the power of their engines. However, speed is nothing if you can’t control it through the corners. F1 championships are won in the corners. The better a driver takes them and positions himself on exit, the better the lap time. This all comes from gripping and downforce. It’s all about directing a vortex of air through the car in the most efficient way. Not only must they create an aerodynamic body, it must force the air downwards. This grips the road and gives the car speed in the corners. It’s a technique that developed in F1 and crept into our everyday car designs. You’ll see similar functions in most cars you buy or sell on Scotland Car Buyer. It all comes from minute bodywork details. Here’s what we think Red Bull are hiding.

A new nose cone

There are two schools of thought when it comes to nose cone design. The first is a super low nose which strengthens downforce at the front of the vehicle. It grips at the front and keeps control in the corners. The second school of thought is a higher nose. This passes air through to the back of the vehicle and improves the rear performance. It grips from the back. Red Bull are trying to do both with the new car. A low nose and tweaks to allow more air underneath.

The front axle

This powerful air vortex all begins at the front of the car and it’s very difficult to get right. Not least because the wheels get in the way! They introduce their own air flow through the sheer high speeds. The trick is eliminating this ‘dirty air’ and allowing the smooth vortex of air from the front. Looks like Red Bull are using a ‘blown front axle’ to send dirty air back out through the wheels.


Red Bull have always used a unique air duct underneath the nose. It directs air up and out in front of the driver. The intention is to create more downforce at the front of the vehicle. The camouflage car looks to have additional side ducts on the nose. It’s running the air up the same channel and up out in front of the driver.


After the nose, the next major challenge is navigating the vortex through the engine and radiator. Typically the air is sent through the ‘sidepods’. The trick is carving enough space around the radiators. Looks like Red Bull have carved steeper undercuts here to allow air to flow.

We won’t fully understand the changes until we see the car in its natural blue and red later in the season. However, what we do know is that Red Bull are coming out fighting this year. 2015 may just be they take back the championship crown.

Written by