Red Bull Racing whipped the silk from the car, dubbed RB14, to reveal a temporary, special edition ‘digi camo’ livery – nicknamed Disruption by the Red Bull squad – that the team will run for testing in Spain next week.
RB14 will be raced in 2018 by The Honey Badger and his prodigious teammate Max Verstappen. The pair will be hoping that this year’s power-unit (branded TAG-Heuer, supplied by Renault) is more reliable than last year’s, with a maximum of three engines allowed in 2018 (one less than 2017) before penalties will be applied.
Visually, the RB14 is a subtle evolution of 2017’s RB13 as the technical regulations remain largely unchanged. Major differences for 2018 include the introduction of the Halo safety device (which is likely to change shape slightly with aerodynamic additions), and the loss of shark fins, T-wings, and ‘monkey seats’ at the rear of the car.
As for the Halo, Ricciardo said the divisive safety apparatus didn’t hamper him on track.
"I can see fine. Before today I'd only done a couple of installs with the Halo, so it was pretty new – but I really didn't notice it was there,” the Aussie explained.
“Honestly, unless there's [trackside signage] above, I don't see any issues at all on a flat track. It is a bit awkward to jump in and out, but it's OK. A small challenge, but we'll get over it."
In previous years Red Bull has chosen to reveal its cars “aggressively late”, allowing the design department as much time as possible to finalise aerodynamic components before testing. This year, however, the team opted to launch a couple of days early and run a shakedown to iron out any possible issues.
Red Bull used one of its available ‘filming days’ to put Ricciardo behind the wheel of RB14 for a brief run at a sodden Silverstone circuit in the UK, ensuring the car is ready ahead of pre-season testing starting at the Jerez circuit on Feb 26.
“It's always hard to tell from a few laps but the initial feeling is good,” Ricciardo said following the shakedown.
“It's not doing anything that scares me and I can already feel that the rear of the car feels pretty settled, even in these poor conditions. Those are encouraging early signs."