You couldn't say that Red Bull technical genius Adrian Newey resented being at the launch of RB9 – his demeanor was plenty breezy enough – but he did seem somewhat bemused at the whole concept of a pre-season unveiling. To him, the idea of revealing a brand-new car in February has become as anachronistic as grooved tires and profligate testing.
"What's really changed Formula 1 over the last 10 or more years is the rate of development through the year," explained Newey, a man with plenty of experience of delivering winter bombshells to rivals. "It used to be that if you came out with a dominant car at the start of the year, as long as you were reliable it would win the championship. That's not the case anymore. It really is a case of continual development. Where you've got stable regulations, you can almost picture a new car as another evolution for another race. It just happens that this time we've had two months between races rather than two weeks."
The glitz of Red Bull's pre-launch hospitality was certainly at odds with the coyness of its actual unveiling. From between-the-lines scouring and facial expression monitoring, you could deduce that Newey found the benefit/drawbacks quandary of DRS-boosting devices fascinatingly irksome; that team boss Christian Horner could've done without Helmut Marko's latest verbal grenade in the direction of Mark Webber; that team status questions still niggled Webber, that Sebastian Vettel didn't fancy a Fernando Alonso-esque winter lie-in but didn't think his archrival would miss much at Jerez; and that the late-2012 development push really had taken so much out of Red Bull that it feared a lackluster start to 2013.
Dynamite revelations were few and far apart, unless you counted Vettel responding to a curiously worded question about his "plans for world domination" with "I know I'm German, but I didn't say I wanted that..." Three world titles have not dulled Vettel's talent for glint-eyed mischief...
Yet the center of attention – the RB9 – kept a low profile. Photography in the unveiling area was banned, and Wi-Fi limited to reporters' own intrepid dongles.
You could squint at the RB9 from a distance, but the covers were swiftly pulled back across as the press conference drew to a close. And Red Bull bucked the trend for online launch broadcasts, too.
Infiniti's enhanced role as title sponsor got plenty of exposure, which was ultimately the point of the event from Red Bull's perspective. But, Newey reckoned, it wasn't as if his team was being any more secretive than its peers.
"The other teams have only made limited-view pictures available – rather like we're presenting today," said Newey with a touch of his lead driver's impishness. "It's easy to make big styling or feature changes, but whether that really brings much lap time benefit or not is another matter. Often it's the small details that aren't very clear to a faraway camera that are most significant."
And those details have to be spotted in the pitlanes of tests or grands prix. They certainly weren't going to be flaunted to the world at a mere car launch.