Red Bull RB8 had a rocky road to title
The Red Bull RB8 was the car with which Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing won their third consecutive Formula 1 World Championship title in 2012.
Red Bull Racing dominated Formula 1 in the early 2010s and RB7 was particularly impressive during 2011. However, its successor wasn’t so convincing but still was good enough to win another title for both Vettel and the team.
Big overhaul had to be done
However, a new car had to go through a major development once the blown diffuser was removed. That change hit Red Bull harder than any other team. During the first pre-season test it was clear that RB8 lacks balance. For the final pre-season test, the layout uniquely featured a channel underneath the side pod to feed the center of the diffuser. The team continued to develop the layout, exploiting more and more downforce. The performance of the car became better but obviously, it was just a fraction of what could have been achieved one year before.
Improvements have been done throughout the whole Formula 1 season
During the season, many teams were complaining about some technical and design solutions implemented by Red Bull, but FIA never accused the team of any wrongdoing. However, Red Bull was twice forced to make changes to their cars after the FIA made regulation changes. Just before the last third of the season, Red Bull brought in an update that was decisive when it comes to championship – a new nose, a double DRS system, and improved wings made that car stronger.
For the fourth consecutive season, the two-time champion Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were the drivers, which was also very important because they knew the team inside out.
Waiting for the first victory
The start of the year did not match the team’s ambitions. Vettel finished 2nd in the season-opening race in Australia, then was 11th in Malaysia and 5th in China, while Webber finished 4th in each race. Finally, the reigning champion earned a maiden victory of the season in the Bahrain Grand Prix, while Mark was 4th again.
However, in the Spanish Grand Prix, the results were again below the expectations. Vettel finished 6th and Webber 11th but Aussie bounced back by winning the Monaco Grand Prix in which his teammate finished 4th.
After that race, Vettel and Webber shared the 2nd position in the Drivers’ Championship, three points behind Fernando Alonso, while the team had a strong advantage of 38 points to the 2nd placed McLaren.
Vettel’s long run without a win
In the Canadian Grand Prix, Vettel started from pole position but at the end, he was 4th and Webber 7th. In the European Grand Prix at Valencia street circuit, Vettel had only one retirement of the season but Webber picked some points by finishing 4th. Finally, in the British Grand Prix, both Red Bull RB8’s drivers scored a podium finish. Webber was the winner of the race and Vettel finished 3rd.
When it looked like the team finally found what was needed for success, in the next two races the results were again modest. In Germany, Vettel was 5th and Webber 8th, while in Hungary Sebastian finished 4th and Mark again was 8th. The results were slightly better in Belgium. Vettel was 2nd in the race at Spa, while Webber finished 6th. The Italian Grand Prix was definitely the worst moment of the season because both drivers finished without points because they had problems with their cars.
At that point, the situation didn’t look well at all. Vettel was 4th in the championship standings, 39 points behind a leader Fernando Alonso, while the 5th placed Webber was further, eight points behind. Red Bull Racing was still at the top of the Constructors’ championship standings, being 29 points ahead of McLaren.
Champion fights back
The Singapore Grand Prix was probably the turning point of the season. Vettel won the race and started his winning streak which propelled him back into the championship battle. German driver then triumphed in the Japanese Grand Prix and then he had a victory in Korea where the team scored the only 1-2 finish after Webber took the 2nd place. The Indian Grand Prix was also very fruitful after Sebastian scored the 4th consecutive win, while Mark finished 3rd.
With three races remaining, Vettel topped the standings, having 13 points more than Alonso. The team already put one hand to the Constructors’ championship title after being 91 points ahead of Ferrari.
Dramatic finish of the season
Vettel’s advantage decreased to 10 points after Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in which he finished 3rd but after the US Grand Prix, the penultimate race of the year, his lead increased to 13 points. His 2nd place in that race gave Red Bull Racing enough points to secure their third consecutive title.
The last race of the season was rainy Brazilian Grand Prix. The battle between Vettel and Alonso culminated after German collided with Bruno Senna on the first lap and dropped to the back of the grid. Spaniard was close to winning the title but not for a long time. Vettel recovered quickly and was able to finish the race in 6th place. Alonso finished 2nd which wasn’t enough for the title as he finished the season three points behind the Red Bull driver who had his third trophy in a row.
What do the numbers say?
The Red Bull RB8 wasn’t as impressive as its predecessor. The other teams were more competitive in 2012, so RB8 had a harder task en route to the trophies. In 2012, the Red Bull RB8 drivers won 7 out of 20 races in 2012 (Vettel 5, Webber 2). The team had a total of 14 podiums, 8 pole positions (Vettel 6, Webber 2) and 7 fastest laps (Vettel 6, Webber 1).
Video – Red Bull RB8 at Spa
Red Bull RB8 technical specifications
|Chassis||Carbon composite monocoque carrying the engine as a fully stressed member|
|Suspension (front & rear)||Aluminium alloy uprights, carbon composite double wishbone|
|Engine||Renault RS27, 2.400 cc, 90° V8, mid-mounted, naturally aspirated, limited to 18.000 rpm|
|Power||750 hp/560 kW|
|Gearbox||Red Bull 7-speed semi-automatic, hydraulic powershift|
|Brakes||Brembo calipers and carbon discs, and pads|
|Electronics||FIA(MESL) standard control unit|