Red Bull RB14 hits the track for the first time at Silverstone
Ricciardo takes RB14 for first laps ahead of winter testing
By James Galloway and Pete Gill
Last Updated: 20/02/18 1:21pm
Red Bull's new RB14 has taken to the track for the first time at Silverstone.
Hours after the team caused a stir by revealing images of their latest challenger in special edition livery, Daniel Ricciardo took to the British GP venue to put the first miles on a car Red Bull hope will propel them back into world title contention with Mercedes and Ferrari.
"It's hard to tell from a couple of laps but the initial feeling in the car is good," said Ricciardo. "I can already feel that the rear feels pretty settled, even in these poor conditions. Those are encouraging early signs."
Red Bull used one of their designated filming days to complete the RB14's initial running - which marks the first time that a 2018 F1 car has been seen in action.
"They have got it running, they've got it out of the garage and it has come back on its own steam," reported Sky F1's David Croft from outside Red Bull's factory in nearby Milton Keynes.
"They've done that ahead of Ferrari, ahead of Mercedes, and it's the first time Red Bull have done this. They've prioritised getting to the first test with the car working properly so they can then work on improvements and making it faster. They didn't have that luxury last year.
"Adrian Newey has been told 'we want a car ready for the first test' - and that's what he's delivered."
Teams are limited to 100km in such sessions and must run on demonstration tyres, but the outings are considered invaluable as they enable routine system checks to be completed before the serious business of pre-season testing begins.
Mercedes will also be on track at Silverstone on Thursday when they reveal their new W09, while Ferrari are expected to conduct their own filming day at Barcelona on Sunday.
Why have Red Bull launched early?
Red Bull's early launch - exactly a week before pre-season testing begins at Barcelona - is in contrast to the team's recent habit of launching their new car as late as practically possible. But after two successive 'slow starts' to a new season, the team have brought forward the launch of the RB14 to become the first of the sport's frontrunners to reveal their new-for-2018 contender.
"The pattern of the last few years has been to launch aggressively late," said Red Bull. "This has allowed the design department the maximum amount of time to add goodness to the car before the cut-off point at which the design is frozen and a launch car produced. It's been not uncommon to have the car finished, fired up for the first time and shipped to Spain for the start of testing all on the same day.
"It serves a purpose - but you wouldn't do it if you didn't have to, and this year we didn't have to.
"It's preferable to finish the car early and deal with any snags now, when the car is on a track a short drive from the factory, rather than using up one of our eight ultra-precious test days doing the same at the Circuit de Catalunya."
Croft expects Red Bull's earlier start to help ensure they are a factor at the front of the field at next month's season-opening round in Melbourne.
"'Appetite for disruption' is the buzzword coming out of Milton Keynes at the moment," said Croft in reference to Red Bull's launch slogan. "Certainly they feel they are going to be there to win races and get in the mix with Mercedes and Ferrari.
"I think there's a very good chance that Red Bull will be going to the first race of the season and will be right there in the mix. Red Bull have traditionally started slower than other teams - they haven't won the first race of the season since 2011 and haven't been on the podium at the first race since 2013."
Sky Sports F1 is the only place to watch every Formula 1 Grand Prix, qualifying and practice session live in 2018. Get Sky Sports F1.