Red Bull updates, Spanish Grand Prix, 2023

Red Bull’s Spanish GP diffuser update was ‘inspired by rivals’ including Williams

2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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The team which has dominated the 2023 Formula 1 season so far introduced an update to its car last weekend which drew inspiration from a design used by the team currently at the bottom of the standings.

Red Bull’s chief engineer of car engineering Paul Monaghan said the latest revision to the RB19’s diffuser follows a trend adopted by Williams, among other teams.

The team increased the curvature of the edges of its diffuser in an update introduced at last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix in order to increase the downforce it generates. In the information it supplied to the FIA, Red Bull made a point of stating the change “took inspiration from competitor designs.”

“You can’t assume that you have the best solution in all areas of the car when you first put your car on the ground,” Monaghan told media including RaceFans. “Our currency is lap time, isn’t it?

“If you look that piece of floor design, that was out early 2022. I recall the Williams had it quite early on and some other people had it. It didn’t necessarily work for us.

“We’ve looked at it a couple of times, and it’s a small benefit. It looks like a slightly larger change than is actually realised.

“You’re coming towards the back of the floor so it’s not going to be the most influential thing you do, it helps a little bit, and you’re quite constrained if you look in height-wise of where we can do it. It’s been there for a while, it now works, so we were in a position where we could include that in that local bit of floor and we’ve done it.”

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Images of the floors on Red Bull’s car and Williams’ FW45 appeared after their drivers crashed in the last two rounds at Circuit de Catalunya and in Monaco. They revealed the sophistication of Red Bull’s design compared to the likes of Williams’.

Mercedes updates, Spanish Grand Prix, 2023
Mercedes replaced their ‘zero’ sidepods
Monaghan admitted “it’s not great” that rivals had been able to gain such clear images of their design. “We don’t put our car up for people to view.”

However he said it won’t affect Red Bull’s development plan and he believes the team’s rivals may take until around the Japanese Grand Prix in September to duplicate their design. “It has happened, we’ll move on, and there’s a phase there between people seeing it, getting it onto their car and actually going faster with it.

“For want of a better description, an ignorant copy isn’t necessarily going to go faster. It has to integrate. And it’s not just a bit of floor geometry. It’s certainly sensitive on these cars.

“Our one was seen, the Mercedes was seen. But don’t forget, people carry floors in and out of garages, people lift the front of cars up. So it’s not as if it was the first time.

“Our development path is reasonably well laid-out in terms of the timings we wish to work to try and deploy things if they’re going to make us go faster. If we change someone else’s development plan, then we probably increase the pace by which they can get it to the car.

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“So let’s have a chat around Japan-time and we’ll see where everybody is. But we’ve got to maintain our discipline and our development path, and it’s only our car that we can change the speed of. We can’t influence what those guys do. So we’ll keep plugging away in our own manner, and we’ll try to be quickest.”

Red Bull’s diffuser was widely copied in 2011
Over the past weeks Mercedes and Ferrari have moved away from their original solutions to the new technical regulations introduced last year and embraced designs which are more similar to Red Bull’s. However Monaghan isn’t convinced teams will inevitably converge on a single design.

“Are the others finding performance gains through looking at the shape of our car? If they’re not, then they’re not necessarily going to do it.

“If they’re pushed into doing it because it seems to be the fastest, then unless you understand it you can do an ignorant copy and you won’t go any faster.”

However he acknowledged that teams often copy each other and Red Bull’s successful designs have been duplicated in the past.

“It’s a form of flattery, isn’t it? We go back to 2009, ’10, ’11. Even in 2014 we were winning races with an overall inferior package to that which Mercedes had. So we’re not immune to doing it, and other people will look at our car and try to – if they think they’re going to go faster – take influence from it. It’s fine, it’s happened many, many years.

“Ask McLaren about 2011. They put their car on the ground and it was not quick. It appeared with some exhausts that looked just like ours and it was quite quick. So it’s happened for many years and it will carry on. And it’s a method of levelling the sport. There are no copyrights, are there? So take it as flattery then, it’s very nice.”

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2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
    Claire Cottingham
    Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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    One comment on “Red Bull’s Spanish GP diffuser update was ‘inspired by rivals’ including Williams”

    1. Very interesting to hear that Even Red Bull was inspired on Williams diffuser (and others) probaly the area in the rear near the rear tyre…

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