At first glance the Red Bull RB16B looks pretty much identical to the 2020 RB16 – even Red Bull has said “the first images of the new car suggests that not too much has changed over the winter”. But look closely and there are morsels to be found.
As with every 2021 F1 car, the RB16B is, as the ‘B’ suggests, a revised 2020 RB16, owing to the fact the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has pushed the biggest revision in technical regulations for the past decade back until 2022. Minor rule changes for the new season have, however, forced a number aerodynamic tweaks to slow the cars down and improve following characteristics, including a narrower rear floor and a simpler diffuser and rear brake ducts. Scour the RB16B and you’ll spot that narrower floor, as well as changes to the sidepod shape and bargeboards.
What we can’t see, aside from the rear of the car, is what’s concealed under the bodywork. With Honda due to pull out of Formula 1 at the end of 2021, and Red Bull taking ownership of the operation under the new moniker Red Bull Powertrains Limited for 2022, the engine in the RB16B is the newest and most advanced Honda F1 engine ever. Quite whether it’ll be a match for Mercedes power, we’ll just have to wait and see.
The car will hit the track for the first time on the 24th February at a testing day at Silverstone, with both drivers, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, at the wheel. Reserve driver and Verstappen’s team-mate in 2020 Alex Albon will also be on hand, driving the 2019 RB15 and, says Red Bull, “sifting through the feedback on the RB16B from Max and Sergio”.