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Red Bull Racing

The secret of Verstappen's new innovative Red Bull chassis

The pace of Max Verstappen and Red Bull certainly raised eyebrows in the Belgian Grand Prix paddock, but is this down to a new chassis? Technical analyst for RacingNews365 Paolo Filisetti explains...

Verstappen Belgium
Analysis
To news overview © XPBimages

Max Verstappen's dominant display of pace means that all eyes will be on the Red Bull driver from P15 on the Belgian Grand Prix grid.

His six-tenth qualifying advantage over Ferrari's Carlos Sainz has caused optimism that the Dutchman can carve his way through the field and finish on the podium.

The worried looks were already there after the second free practice session on Friday, with many in the paddock already talking about a new chassis for Verstappen.

A new chassis for Verstappen is incoming, but it has most likely not yet been deployed at Spa-Francorchamps.

When the new chassis does arrive, it will be stiffer and lighter than its predecessor. Paolo Filisetti, technical analyst for RacingNews365.com, explains the situation.

Red Bull nears minimum weight limit

The Belgian GP traditionally heralds the second phase of the season and this particular place on the calendar makes it an important Grand Prix from a technical point of view.

Usually, teams not only introduce specific aerodynamic packages for low downforce circuits such as Spa and Monza, but it is often the top teams who also make significant changes to the cars. Changes that are not only focused on the aerodynamic concept.

This year, all eyes are on the Red Bull team. The team have developed a new chassis, several sources in the paddock tell RacingNews365.com. The special feature of the new monocoque is that it is around five kilograms lighter.

In practice, this brings Verstappen's RB18 close to its minimum weight of 798kg, with a theoretical performance advantage of just under two-tenths per lap over the previous chassis.

What is the secret of the new chassis?

The result was achieved by applying a different construction to the chassis. Not in terms of design, which has remained the same, but by carefully studying the cross-ply of the different layers of carbon fibre.

By placing the fibres in a different orientation, the same stiffness and strength values as the previous version could be obtained, but with a reduced thickness in many places of the chassis. As a result, the new chassis is significantly lighter.

At its core is a thorough and extensive analysis through the use of Finite Elements tools, with software that virtually evaluates the stresses by dividing the body into several sections.

This makes it possible to simulate the resistance of the structure and its stiffness as the structure varies. The focus here is on the orientation of the fibres of the different carbon layers.

It is clear that this involves a major financial investment, both in the design phase and in the physical production of the new chassis. According to the team, the resources used by Red Bull are part of the extra budget of four million euros allocated to the teams by the FIA due to inflation.

Sources report that around half of this bonus was used for the development and manufacture of the new chassis.

			© RN365/Paolo Filisetti
	© RN365/Paolo Filisetti

Is Red Bull playing hide and seek?

The different fibre crosses used in the construction of the RB18 chassis are indicated in the circles on the image above.

On the left is the first version, used up to and including the Hungarian Grand Prix, with orthogonal crossings between the fibres. On the right is the diagonal orientation, which allowed a weight reduction of about five kilos.

Nobody from Red Bull wanted to confirm the use of the new chassis by Verstappen, but the gap of eight-tenths to teammate Sergio Perez is also considerably larger than before. That a new chassis has been developed with a different structure and significantly lower weight was confirmed.

Sources around rivals Ferrari and Mercedes expressed their fears about Red Bull's new 'miracle weapon'. They are convinced that the new chassis will be used by Verstappen this weekend. However, sources around the Red Bull team point towards the Singapore GP in early October.

Should that be the case, the competition's worries will be even greater.

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