As well as RB moving away from being just a training ground for junior drivers, the squad has been open about forging closer ties with sister squad Red Bull that extends to a technical alliance.
It was never likely that this relationship would result in RB producing a straight Red Bull clone, and its new VCARB 01 challenger duly shows a mixture of the squad’s own DNA with a spatter of ideas we have seen from the RB18 and RB19.
These include but are not limited to, mechanical components, of which we have the first major talking point when it comes to the new car.
RB has made the switch to pull-rod front suspension, something that Red Bull opted for when the new regulations arrived in 2022. McLaren has used that configuration since then too, with Sauber joining the gang with its new C44.
The big talking point of this generation of ground effect cars always comes down to the sidepods, and in RB’s case there is one prominent change in this area.
The team has switched to a similar inlet configuration to Red Bull, as will seemingly be the case for everyone this year.
The arrangement seen here is much more reminiscent of the RB18 though, with Red Bull having optimised its design over the course of the 2023 season, to further shallow and widen the bodywork in order to increase the size of the undercut.
The rest of the sidepod’s design is in line with how RB finished out its 2023 campaign, with defined upper and lower sections to the bodywork that maximises their role in channelling the various flow streams to the rear of the car.
The lower section, which is mainly unpainted, cuts in deep below the forward portion of the sidepod, before abruptly sweeping out to its extremities to enclose the ancillaries, such as radiators, coolers and electronics, that lay within.
Meanwhile, the upper forward portion of the sidepod has a generous undercut and a downsloping swage line on the upper surface that’s buttressed up against a tall shoulder that rides the downsloping bodywork, whilst creating a shallow gully in the sidepod’s upper surface that will feed the airflow down into the coke bottle-shaped section at the rear of the car.
The engine cover, including the shelf-like extension that many teams have formed on their cars, has also been carried over from 2023 and will likely feature gills that wrap around the shoulder when additional cooling is required.
In terms of cooling in this configuration, there’s the same hooded outlets down in the suspension region that adorned the AT04, whilst the rear cooling outlet on the upper deck also points down.
The more rectangular airbox design that was introduced last season also has a stay of execution albeit it will have been re-engineered to pass the revised tests that have been introduced by the FIA this year.
A simple spoon-shaped rear wing assembly is shown in the launch images, with a single central support pillar in use, similar to last year’s arrangement.
And, as RB had in the closing stages of 2023, the new car’s tip section features an open-ended design that follows the lineage created by Alpine earlier that season.
Meanwhile, the swage line that the team incorporated into the outer face of its rear wing endplate at the Monaco Grand Prix is also present.
It’s unlikely that the VCARB 01 shown in these early renders is its final form though, as many of the details, such as the front wing and floor edge, are very much carryover from the end of 2023.
And these are the areas where you’d expect the team to have focused some of its design effort heading into 2024. Therefore, we can expect a shower of new parts to be available at preseason testing, whilst a clutch of updates will likely follow in the opening few races of the season.