Sunset Bv/Highland Av. Los Angeles, CA. August 2013.
For me, this photo is LA. Wide boulevards, palm trees, hoards of cars, and modernist single storey buildings with a mixture of mom and pop and chain stores. It’s the quintessential Los Angeles urban vernacular. This is what LA looks like when you’re exploring the city like an Angelino. Not the 1920s mansions of Hancock Park or the sprawling estates in the Hollywood Hills or the monolithic towers downtown.
It may not have that postcard perfect look that San Francisco, New York, Paris, or Amsterdam are known for, but I find it oddly beautiful. Perhaps an eclectic sort of beautiful. These wide boulevards can be surprisingly urban (for a city often considered a giant suburb) and full of people. Plus, the diverse array of businesses leaves something for everyone; from hole in the wall eateries that are all the rage on Urban Spoon to chain apparel stores, LA’s boulevards have it covered.
When i went to Silverstone this year there was a competition to win a tour of the Red Bull factory on the 7th September, and i of course entered it. Thinking nothing of it after not receiving and email i completely forgot about it, until i got an email around the end of August saying that i’d won and needed to reply to them etc. Of course i was overwhelmed and super excited for this day, and now it’s finally happened.
This isn’t the first time i’ve been to the factory, when i was at Silverstone we took a detour to see the outside and take photos so as much as the outside of the factory is impressive, i wasn’t bouncing off the walls at seeing that.
First of all, the car in the window is not a “real” one as suspected. It’s a replica of the RB6 with the most recent livery painted on and is made of plastic but everything is to scale. Now, walking through the doors and seeing the reception is what most people want to see. On the right (behind the car) is the trophy cabinet with (almost) every podium and constructors trophy.
These are all the trophies from 2015 and before (minus the constructors championships) and wow, there are a lot. Granted a few are missing as some of you may no about the robbery last year where the trophies were stolen, and our tour guide said that they were too damaged to salvage so the FIA has slowly been making exact replicas to replace them. Now, in the front entrance where the RB is, are this years trophies and constructors.
Two of the constructors are missing due to the robbery but these are the two that weren’t touched.
I do have more photos of individual trophies. If you want to see the rest of this years trophies drop me an inbox and i’d be more than happy to upload. Now, the actual factory tour. For obvious reasons we couldn’t take photos so i don’t have much to show you on this, only my word.
So we went to the right of the reception and past the gift shop (yes there is a gift shop) and up a flight of stairs to the first part which was pretty much an open plan office. There looked to be about 200 ish computers that people could sit at but not all of them were filled and this was were they worked on the 3D design and did simulation work on the computers. This is where the design for ANY part of the car is first drafted. The guys working there were currently working on designs for the 2017 car so we weren’t allowed to go over and actually look on the screens but they seemed to be very happy (which was a good indicator).
So after that we went to the electronics were all the cables/wiring for the car were made. There were guys working there too and it was so cool to look down and see them wiring things together (for what, i do not know) and all by hand too. Our tour guide said that if even a tiny piece of wiring is longer, even by 1 mm it has to be remade because that 1mm adds extra weight to the car so the guys really have to make sure things are accurate.
The next part was one of the most interesting, the communications room. This is where (you all already probably know tbh) the guys sit on race weekends relaying information to and from the factory/team. Now something that was interesting was that we all know that every team has one of these rooms, but not how big it is, so RB could be 3x bigger than the room at McLaren but 10x smaller than Mercedes. It wasn’t the biggest room but i’ve got an idea how many people could fit in there.
From there we went to the paint shop, where obviously each part gets painted up. RB make their own paint formula because they weren’t happy with the standard type so it’s as aerodynamic as possible. And no, to answer all the questions, the matte is not any more/less aerodynamic than the shiny, it just looks pretty. She also said something quite interesting about the paint formula and something they do to stop other teams *cough* Mercedes *cough* replicating it.
After that we went down to a room where 3D scale parts are printed for the wind tunnel and replica cars. This room wasn’t as big as i thought and there was only 5 machines working to print each part, which isn’t a lot considering it can take up to 5 days to 3D print a front wing. It was pretty interesting to see the printers working but they’d only just started so there was barely anything to see, just the tiny white outline of part of the chassis really. The replica of the RB was pretty nice to see, it’s 60% the size of the real one which is a rule the FIA has implemented to make it a more fair playing field rather than letting the teams test on the full size and get the most accurate information.
The room where the parts that are metal are built was huge. The machines were absolutely massive and there was at least ten of them i could count. The machines were running and working on parts but we couldn’t really see into them to know exactly what they were working on, but we did get to see and hold the wheel nuts from the RB1 to the RB6 which was really cool (although they were a little greasy!) We also got to hold the metal blocks/cylinders that would eventually be made into a car part and boy are they heavy.
I got to hold a lot of other things; for example we had a cooling tube that was made from metal and one from carbon fibre and on the surface it doesn’t need to be made from carbon fibre because it isn’t exposed to the same heat/pressure but the difference in weight was unreal. She also said that the weight of the car without the driver is currently lllegal (under 702kg) but added with the driver it is legal, which pretty much means they can add parts wherever they want without worrying about it being too bad.
The race bays were really cool too, there was a replica of last years car for the crew to practice their pit stops on (with next years tyres! and really they don’t look much different in the flesh) the garage layout is the exact same as it is at the races, every drawer, every tool placement is the exact same, even down to the vinyl floor just to make the factory/race environment as close to each other as possible. Most of the cars weren’t fully built up and a few of the guys were working on them so we didn’t really get too close to them.
Now the final part, which was probably the best was over in another building. She was very secretive as to what it was, apologized that the building wasn’t as polished and clean as the other but when she opened the doors to said room i was greeted with this view.
She said that they have a thing for hoarding old cars/parts and they certainly wasn’t wrong, every car from the begging all the way up to the RB12 is here.
This was definitely the best part of the tour and i’m not surprised she left it until the end. After this we went back to reception and got a free goody bag!
Honestly it was such a surreal experience and really opened my eyes at how much work went into the making and development of this team. I hope this has been an interesting read for you all, and i’m signing off with my pass, ciao!