Red Bull RB20 sidepod detail

Verstappen hails “aggressive” new RB20 as Red Bull mimics Mercedes

Formula 1

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Max Verstappen endorsed Red Bull’s decision to make bold changes to the car design which dominated last year’s world championship.

Red Bull won all bar one of last year’s 22 grands prix, Verstappen taking 19 victories for himself. However the new RB20 revealed today is noticeably different to its predecessor in several respects.

“I’m happy with the direction they chose,” Verstappen told media including RaceFans at the launch. “I saw the drawings at Abu Dhabi, at the last race, and I was like, wow, that’s quite different in a way. They’ve not been conservative, let’s say like that.”

Verstappen said Red Bull’s ambitious approach is “what I like about the team.”

“We had a great package, but they took the chance to be innovative and go all out, I would say, and try to make it better.

“Of course, time will tell if it’s really, really good. But from what I see within the team, everyone is just happy with what they have achieved in the wind tunnel. But then again, we don’t know. You can’t control what the other people do.”

He does not believe the team has taken a risk with its design changes. “I think it’s controlled aggressiveness,” said Verstappen. “Everyone is just happy, it doesn’t seem like it’s a question mark, like they’re not entirely sure.

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The reshaped engine cover on the RB20, which resembles the design used by Mercedes last year, is one distinctive feature of the new car. “I would still call it a Red Bull style,” said Verstappen.

The RB20 also appears to have adopted another feature common to recent Mercedes – narrow sidepod inlets, which were partly obscured from view beneath the lights at the car’s launch. Mercedes used a similar design throughout 2022 and for the first races of last season before moving away from what was dubbed the ‘zero sidepod’ design.

Team principal Christian Horner said the W14-esque engine cover design was “based on performance and what we’re seeing through our simulation tools.”

“Obviously the car looks quite visibly different in certain areas to last year,” he continued. “Only the stopwatch will tell, but in the virtual world, we wouldn’t have committed it to design if we didn’t feel it was better.”

“There’s some great innovation on the car as well that will no doubt get scrutinised over the coming weeks,” Horner added. “The creativity has been strong in the team. You can see that in some of the solutions that they’ve come up with. It’s not a conservative evolution, there’s some great innovation on the car.”

But having set such a high benchmark last year, Horner said Red Bull’s objective had been to make all-around improvements to the car to stay out of their rivals’ reach.

“It’s marginal gains in all areas,” he said. “You’re constantly looking to try and evolve.

“If you look at the attention to detail on the car, there’s some really exquisite detail. I think the team, as I say, there’s been no complacency. They’ve continued to evolve, to push the boundaries.”

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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...

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18 comments on “Verstappen hails “aggressive” new RB20 as Red Bull mimics Mercedes”

  1. Calling RB20 as mimicking the Merc is quite a stretch.

    Red Bull likely have horizontal inlet (from the real videos I have seen) and not an inlet that uses the SIS as a mirror trick. Secondly the primary similarities are with the cannons I see. Which is certainly interesting. The RB car pioneered the huge undercut last year which was absent in the Merc cars till now.

    I think RB have evolved one more round certainly with input from Mercedes design, but they evolved even last year with input from Aston Alpine Williams.

    1. Calling RB20 as mimicking the Merc is quite a stretch.

      Don’t forget the site where you are. They didn’t write “Hamilton’s Mercedes” this time, which is already an achievement. Definitely moving into the right direction.

      1. conspiracy theorists better stay on RB media

  2. The BS stops when the green flag drops.

    Do I remember one year when the car redbull launched was not the same as the one at the first test?

    So lets just wait till the first test gets going.

    By the way, I think the physics is against the Mer’s zero pod concept.

    1. I believe Mercedes sacrificed quite a bit to get those pods including exhaust temps and engine performance. Usually you like to keep moving forward, but the zero side pod dilema was too many steps in all kinds of directions and the guys in charge of engineering the system as a whole didn’t have a clue what was going on, or were too busy trying to hide that fact.

    2. Problem of Mercedes was the zero side pod concept isn’t bad bit rather very good BUT you need the right suspension to make it work. My feeling was that Red Bull could make that working with their suspension.

      And it seems the designteam thinks it was a good idea. We will see how good this concept will work during testing.

  3. What a slap to Mercedes’ designers! And what a flex by Newey showing them how their own idea should’ve been done. Damn!

    1. I can imagine the Mercedes engineers feeling gutted right now.

    2. It was a good design idea but the couldn’t get it alright but Newey’s team will make it working.

      1. What exactly is RBR going to make it work but the Mercs couldn’t?
        Surely not the zeropod??? Because what’s on the rb20 is a big fat horizontal sidepod, with possibly a vertical inlet underneath; not even close to the zeropod!!!

        So what then? The big fat ugly ‘sausages’ on the engine cover then? Possibly rbr had not choice here because they need cooling to compensate for narrowing their sidepod inlets?!

        1. Coventry Climax
          16th February 2024, 10:53

          These ‘sausages’ are there primarily to conduct outside airflow. I’m sure though, they’ve made good use of the room within. Cooling however, has not been a Red Bull problem last year.

        2. You’re right. This car does definitely not have zero side pods, Mercedes style. If this is the version that appears on track.

    3. Let’s see how fast it is first

      1. Coventry Climax
        16th February 2024, 10:59

        Couldn’t agree more.
        Especially with all these comments from all the high level, high tech engineers with inside knowledge here.

  4. Kudos to Mark Elliott. His team was on to something.

  5. I find it funny that people on here have a go at merc and say things like omg merc so bad and merc designers so arrogant for keeping the slim sidpod. But then when redbull add similar designs suddenly omg Newey so smart merc so dumb (this despite the fact Newey isn’t the sole designer of the car, there are literally hundereds of designers both at redbull and merc). Maybe, just maybe, people on here don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. And maybe the slim sidepods and engine cover weren’t the main reason merc were struggling. Let’s see how the cars perform on the track before we start praising designs non of us actually understand.

  6. Now we know why Red Bull wanted to launched last.

  7. Does anyone else find it so confusing that the Red Bull car is the RB20 whilst the commpletely independent team, has a car designated the RB01. Instead of making people think they are two independent teams, this just blurs the lines even more.

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