The RB18 is undoubtably one of the best chassis produced by Red Bull in Formula 1, having taken 17 wins over the course of a 22-race season.
It is a remarkable achievement after F1 radically changed its car design rules to make the racing closer for 2022, which in turn led to a lot of teams suffering from a porpoising and bouncing phenomenon at the start of the season.
Red Bull appeared to be the only team without any proposing issues, but Max Verstappen reveals there were still some "unexpected" problems with the RB18 in an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com.
"We could more or less just focus on weight reduction and performance," he explains.
"But that weight reduction was really unexpected, so while other teams were solving their porpoising we were solving our weight.
"It's very expensive, which is a problem. With a budget cap, when you have already calculated certain upgrades and you suddenly have to shift it to weight reduction, and finding where to do it, it's not the easiest."
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The influence of the budget cap
To get an understanding of the specific regulation changes that have impacted the development of the RB18, RacingNews365.com also spoke exclusively to Red Bull Technical Director, Pierre Wache.
Wache explains how the newly introduced budget cap in F1 quickly played a role in their weight reduction efforts.
"Everything is influenced by that," says the Frenchman. "Compared to what we have done in the past, many parts and ideas are now being questioned.
"For example, due to the budget cap you have to ensure that the lifespan of certain parts is extended.
"You also opt for materials that are cheaper and therefore sometimes heavier. So the budget cap plays a major role. Sometimes you also choose not to develop certain updates, because the performance you gain is not at the level that justifies the cost."
Red Bull overweight by 20kg at start of the season
The new technical regulations resulted in the minimum weight of F1 cars being raised from 752kg to 798kg, due to the new 18-inch wheels and improved safety on the chassis.
However, the weight increase means they would be around 908kg with fuel, making the 2022 cars some of the heaviest in the history of F1.
Alfa Romeo was the only team which managed to hit the weight target while others, including Red Bull, seemingly traded performance for a heavier car.
Wache explains that the reason they were overweight at the start of the season can be traced back to the intense title fight in 2021, which caused them to switch to development of the RB18 late.
"The fact that we didn't put enough resources into the car, and also maybe our interpretation of some of the new FIA tests affected us more than some of other teams such as the load on the chassis," he says.
When asked how much Red Bull are over the weight limit, he revealed: "It was close to 20 kilos at the beginning of the season."
Wache added that it is a lot harder to find where you can make weight reductions, as it does not always correlate into extra performance.
"There are different aspects to it. You have certain areas of the car that are simply heavier. In addition, you also have other parts that are heavier, but are easier to work on.
"If you replace those parts because they reach the end of their lifespan, you can replace them with a lighter part, so it doesn't have to cost a lot of extra money.
"Some parts of the car, especially the floor, we make it heavier [on purpose] because we thought it might be destroyed on the kerbs.
"Then when we know how the car behaves on track, it gives us the possibility to reduce the weight - which was an easy and very cheap weight reduction."
"But if you look at Alfa Romeo, they were immediately at the minimum weight at the beginning of the year. In the end they did need an extra mounting bar on the floor, while our floor was rigid enough and no longer needed it.
"Mercedes also had the floor stay, but our floor was heavier than theirs in terms of weight."
OTHER TEAMS ARE MUCH CLOSER TO THE WEIGHT LIMIT THAN RED BULL, SO THAT'S WHAT WE CALL 'FREE LAP TIME'
Wache: A lot of 'free lap time' to be gained from weight loss
Given the success of the RB18 in 2022, it might come as a shock to the competition when Wache explains there is still a lot more "free lap time" to be gained from any additional weight loss next season.
“This year, the updates focused mainly on the weight, but also on the aerodynamic performance of the RB18,” he explains.
Wache confirms the car is still overweight and when asked if they are over by a ballpark figure of three kilos he responded: "No, more!"
RacingNews365.com queries: "Twelve?"
"Could be," responded Wache.
"In any case, the car is still substantially too heavy. We can still improve on that next year. The other teams are much closer to the limit, so that's a lot of 'free lap time' as we would call it."
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