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Formula 1

Was Red Bull’s 2022 F1 launch a waste of time?

by Jack Cozens
5 min read

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Despite being billed as the launch of Red Bull’s RB18 2022 Formula 1 car, the chassis unveiled at Wednesday’s event looked far from the genuine article – bearing strong resemblance to the basic show cars used to demonstrate the new regulations in recent years.

Does it matter that Red Bull took that approach? Or should it have just described the event as a form of season preview or livery launch for its new title partner Oracle?

Feb 09 : Red Bull launches the not-so-new RB18

On the Red Bull unveiling episode of The Race F1 Podcast, Edd Straw, Mark Hughes and Gary Anderson all had strong feelings about the car displayed on stage on Wednesday.


Gary Anderson

Red Bull Rb18 2022 F1 Car Launch Youtube Google Chrome 2022 02 09 17 23 33

It’s very frustrating and all we can do is analyse what they show us. What else can we do, not bother?

Is it just something Red Bull wanted to do to be able to say that Oracle was joining it as a title sponsor?

This is a time when everyone’s talking about budget control and basically budget cuts. Events like this cost huge amounts of money and you have to be careful because you can only spend it once.

I know that a lot of the commercial activities are outside of the budget cap, but it still takes effort and manpower to put something like this together. So it’s very, very disappointing that they’ve looked at it as what you might call a non-event.

Maybe it’s because the car’s not ready. I wouldn’t expect a Red Bull to be ready two weeks prior to the first test – that team’s normally still bolting the first car together when we arrive on the morning of the first day of testing because it likes to push everything, including development time, right to the limit.

So this isn’t a car that I would say is a Red Bull by any means. We are expecting with the new regulations that Adrian Newey and his team will put together something that has some nice-looking solutions to given problems.


During my period designing F1 cars, I always liked to just launch with the car’s first shakedown run because it showed to the world that you were up and running. The car had to go around the track.

I’ve had my days of issuing press releases where the new car had blocks holding it up off the ground because it wasn’t ready. That’s all acceptable.

But make sure that you tell the people that you’re trying to impress that this is the situation. Don’t try to hide it. When the presenters and drivers were saying how fantastic the Red Bull looked, that was all absolute rubbish.

But I am expecting Red Bull to be right up there. I expect it to have a very, very well-packaged car that will be right at the front again. This is not that car, though.


Edd Straw

Red Bull Racing Rb18 Launch

We wouldn’t expect Red Bull to give away too many secrets, but it went to extremes with this launch. Effectively, it was a new title partner and livery launch masquerading as a launch because that inevitably gets far more eyeballs than a straightforward sponsor event.

What is a real shame is that Red Bull made a lot of the fact that this was what it called a “fan-first experience”. This allowed members of Red Bull’s digital loyalty platform to host the launch on their social channels.

That’s a great idea, but given this wasn’t a new car launch at all and was primarily a way to get better engagement figures to wave at the new sponsor, that’s hardly treating those fans with respect.

This will surely have been part of a clear strategy. You wouldn’t expect Red Bull to have a car ready by now given a strength of its is pushing design and development time to the limit and rapidly manufacturing parts in order to test the most up-to-date car possible. So this wasn’t simply Red Bull ensuring its event happened because of slippage in the schedule – it decided to take this approach.

It’s not unusual for teams not to reveal proper cars during launches but this went far beyond what we’ve seen before. Had it been called a livery launch, that would have been acceptable – but the bottom line was that calling it a car launch increased the attention and ensured that the team’s loyal fanbase was put to work to serve the team’s commercial objectives.


Mark Hughes

Red Bull Racing Rb18 Launch

I don’t even believe that was even a Red Bull, it’s got so many elements from other generic show cars that we’ve seen, from the F1 Authentics model airbox inlet, the front wing from the original windtunnel model shown when these rules were launched in 2019, generic car sidepods, it’s just in a Red Bull livery.

What we will actually see in testing at Barcelona won’t look much like that.

Has it just not got the real car ready yet and so there’s nothing to show at this early stage, or is there something on that car that’s a bit of an innovation that might give clues to everybody else and give them a headstart on researching it if it was revealed now? I would guess the situation is the former, but it doesn’t preclude the latter.

I am pretty sure we will see genuine cars at other launches. I’ve been in touch with a couple of other teams and they have assured me that they won’t be doing what Red Bull has just done and they will be showing actual cars.

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