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Analysis: Newey surprises with twin keel

For the first time in a decade, Adrian Newey has launched a car of his design for another team other than McLaren, and naturally, the new Red Bull Racing RB3 follows McLaren's design philosophies.

But rather surprisingly, Newey did not convert Red Bull's 2006 V-keel to a McLaren zero keel. Instead, the highly respect designer has resorted to an older and now rare solution as a method of working with the new type of Bridgestone tyre: the twin keel.

In fact, every other team that has already launched their car has opted for zero keel, while Renault continue with their V-keel. Of the rest of the teams yet to launch, all were running zero keel by the end of last season.

Newey adopted the twin keel feature in 2002 on the MP4-17. The twin-keel made its racing debut in Formula One the year before on the Sauber car, where it was introduced by designer Sergio Rinland.

The RB3, launched last Friday at Barcelona, has a somewhat different version: its lower wishbone is mounted to a keel structure that extends from the bottom of the chassis (marked in the illustration in yellow).

The McLaren MP4-17 twin keelYet the visual similarity to the MP4-17 continues with the keel extending downwards to form a turning vane.

Twin keels went out of fashion because of their structural complexity. The demand for a stiff chassis made twin keels unduly heavy, and most teams discarded them for single, V-shaped or zero keels. 

The requirement to make the new front weight biased Bridgestones work, has seen Newey accept the weight penalty at the front of the car, while giving him more freedom with suspension geometry. 

Elsewhere around the RB3 car, similarities to his designs at McLaren are more obvious: these are seen in the shape of the sidepods, the engine cover and snorkel. Other influences are seen in the  rear wing, which follows on Renault's philosophy, and the mirrors appear to emulate Ferrari's design patterns.

Yet despite the apparent influences, the RB3 is clearly one of the neatest cars released this year and could well mark a significant step forward for Red Bull Racing. It all depends now on whether or not the car can perform as well as it looks.

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