Presented on February 3, 2013, in Milton Keynes, the Red Bull RB9 apparently looks like a simple evolution of the previous RB8, only to find itself full of innovative solutions over the course of the season.
The front section of the RB9 offers a lower nose than that of the RB8, however, as the front section is less high, the step is less noticeable than the previous car. However, the entire surface appears large and flat, reminiscent of the latest single-seaters designed in Milton Keynes, as well as the upper part of the bellies, which is also lower and less voluminous, thus reducing the overall dimensions in this area of the car.
The set-up remains battered at the front, while the planned deformation relating to the flexibility of the nose is revised, after the FIA imposes further limitations. In the area of the lower curve there are also two turning vanes similar to those used on the Ferrari F138.
The radiant masses remained in the same position by varying the inclination slightly, while the sides end sloping as on the RB8 at the end of the season, with the elaborate blowing channels, one on each side, relating to the increase of the Coanda effect.
The exhaust manifolds are always located at the bottom and externally, aiming decisively in the area at the foot of the rear wheel. The engine air intake is always rounded in shape and supported by the two side pillars, while the bonnet dome is much more slender in the section, which has a hint of lateral narrowing.
This feature highlights a kind of dorsal fin, which is generated by the tapering and reduction of the entire surface. Always recalling the work of the engineers, we can see how they worked with chisel to determine every single curvature of the entire aerodynamic profile. The bonnet ends with the usual enlarged horn opening, thus maintaining the tradition of the previous cars.
The rear suspension area also appears very low and miniaturized, which maintains the pull-rod pattern. Obviously, the fairing of the rear semi-axle integrated with the lower triangle and the toe-in tie rod is inevitable. At the beginning of the championship, the development of Pirelli tires with a steel core puts the RB9 project in enormous difficulty, which suffers tremendously both in terms of performance and correct use and degradation.
But starting from the Canadian Grand Prix, Newey begins to study a system thanks to which, by exploiting both the ignition delay and some shifting functions, the RB9 is able to produce a sort of perfectly legal traction control effect.
In fact, after a careful listening on the track and the camera cars, it can be seen that the gear changes from the lowest to the highest ratio occur very quickly compared to the other drivers. This, however, will only be valid for Sebastian Vettel, while his teammate Mark Webber, failing to use this device, will remain heavily delayed.
Finally, the subsequent transformation of the Pirelli supply, which starting from the German Grand Prix offers teams the use of tires with a Kevlar core, and starting from the Hungarian Grand Prix produces tires with a construction more similar to that of 2012, will greatly disadvantage the competition, making Vettel's Red Bull unattainable.
The extraordinary season
At the inaugural Grand Prix in Australia, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull take their first pole position of the season, giving a clear sign that the Anglo-German duo is still the benchmark for the competition. On Sunday, however, he offers a very heated race which, thanks to the various strategies in the pits, sees Kimi Raikkonen come out the winner in the Lotus, followed by Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, who is denied the first victory of the season.
Not bad, because in Malaysia the German conquers his second pole position of the season. The following day, however, the adverse weather contributed to a very chaotic start, which saw Fernando Alonso damage the front wing in a contact at the start with Sebastian Vettel. The race proceeds without too many twists, except that on the forty-first lap, at the end of the fourth tire change, a fierce duel between Mark Webber and team-mate Sebastian Vettel starts, which ends four laps later, with the German who passes his teammate, despite the fact that they had given the order to freeze the positions from the pits, to bring home the first double of the season.
The third round of the season, in China, is truly inauspicious for the Milton Keynes team, protagonist of an unfortunate qualifying session on Saturday, while in the race it only has to settle for a fourth place won thanks to the support of Sebastian Vettel, while Mark Webber forced to record his first seasonal training camp. In Bahrain Sebastian Vettel is back as a protagonist, winning the fourth race of the season without too much competition, after starting from second place won during Saturday's qualifying.
At Catalunya, home to the fifth round of the season, Red Bull accuses serious problems regarding tire wear, which do not allow it to maintain an adequate race pace, thus having to settle for a poor fourth position. The RB9 and Sebastian Vettel return only to the podium in the Principality of Monaco, an occasion in which they get a good second place, while in the following Canadian Grand Prix, the German wins his third win of the season.
At this point of the season, the world challenge always sees Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso in contention. The British Grand Prix is the most chaotic race of the entire season: Lewis Hamilton keeps the lead at the start, while Fernando Alonso makes his way behind the lines, but on lap eight the race leader and local idol fell victim to the blowout of the left rear tire. So Sebastian Vettel inherits the first position, followed by Rosberg. Two laps later, the same technical problem occurs on Felipe Massa's car, and on the fourteenth lap there is the third blowout of a tire in the race: this time it is Jean-Éric Vergne's turn.
At this point, the race management decides to send the safety car to the track, to allow the stewards to clean the track of rubber debris. At the restart Vettel maintains the lead, while further behind Mark Webber passes Sergio Pérez to conquer the eighth position, but on lap 41 the German is forced to retire due to a gearbox failure.
After he also dechaped a tire on the car driven by Sergio Pérez on lap forty-sixth, it will therefore be Nico Rosberg who wins the race, followed by Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso in third position, who recovers valuable points from a world perspective.
Following the sudden failure of the tires, Pirelli, for safety reasons, decides to supply tires with a kevlar core starting from the German Grand Prix, and with constructions similar to 2012 starting from the Hungarian one. This measure indirectly helps teams suffering from excessive tire wear, including Red Bull, which in the meantime has developed the system that simulates the traction control effect, and returns to the top step of the podium on the Nürburgring circuit followed by a third place in Hungary.
Since the Spa Grand Prix, the Austrian team and the German driver have struck together an impressive roadmap, winning all nine remaining races on the calendar always starting from the front row, thus leaving no world hope for Fernando Alonso and Scuderia Ferrari.
After winning in Belgium, Italy, Singapore, Korea, and Japan, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull win their fourth consecutive world title in the last edition of the Indian Grand Prix with three races to spare, closing the season with triumphs in Abu Dhabi, USA and Brazil, scoring a total of 596 points, winning eleven pole positions, twelve wins, and eleven podiums, collecting only four retirements.