BARCELONA Feb 26 Former world champions Red Bull unveiled their 13th Formula One car on Sunday, applying an innovative tweak to the nose and laughing in the face of superstition.
"Stroke that rabbit’s foot, grab that four-leaf clover, fling that horseshoe and crank up the Stevie Wonder, because after a long winter’s wait our 2017 challenger, the RB13, is here," the team said in a short video on their website. (www.redbullracing.com)
Wonder had a hit with 'Superstition' in 1972 and a number of supposed portents of good and bad luck flashed up in the video, including broken mirrors, slot machine jackpots and crossed fingers.
"RB 13 - Unlucky for some," declared a neon sign, with the 'UN' part flickering on and off. The team used the Twitter hashtag #breaksuperstition.
The number 13 is considered unlucky in Britain, where fear of it is recognised as triskaidekaphobia, but lucky in some other parts of the world such as Italy, home of Red Bull's rivals Ferrari.
It was perhaps unlucky for Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado, who raced with the number 13 and had a reputation as a crasher, but was seemingly a good omen for design ace Adrian Newey's McLaren MP4-13 that won both championships in 1998.
Newey, who joined Red Bull from McLaren in 2006 and won four titles between 2010 and 2013, remains the designer behind the RB13 and the car triggered immediate intrigue with what appears to be a prominent hole at the end of the nose.
The launch car is likely to differ notably from the one that starts the season in Australia on March 26, however, with teams keeping their real aerodynamic secrets under wraps for as long as possible.
"Looking forward to taking her for a spin," commented Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo on Twitter, while 19-year-old team mate Max Verstappen signalled his approval with a heart-eyed emoji.
Red Bull were the only team to beat champions Mercedes last season, with a win apiece for Verstappen and Ricciardo, on their way to second place overall.
The once-dominant team, who won their four successive titles with Sebastian Vettel, are seen by many as the ones most likely to give Mercedes a real challenge this season.
"I think the RB13 is one of the prettiest cars that we've designed and made because the geometry of the car under these new regulations means the proportions look right," commented team principal Christian Horner.
"It looks mean, it looks fast. The old adage is that, if it looks right, it tends to go alright – and this car sure looks right."
Testing starts in Barcelona on Monday. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)