Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2024

Newey calls RB20 “a more extreme version” of dominant 2023 car

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In the round-up: Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey explains the concept behind the team’s latest class-leading Formula 1 car.

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In brief

Newey explains “more extreme” RB20

Although the RB20 is outwardly different to its predecessor in several key ways, Newey says the core idea behind it is the same, but taken to a more advanced level.

“Really the sort of architecture of the car, has stayed very similar,” he told Sky. “Third generation since ’22. The aero principles which you now see on this year’s car compared to last year, it’s a route that we were taking really since early ’22 and it’s just a more extreme version or route down the same path.”

Red Bull introduced its first significant upgrade for the car at last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, adding new vents either side of the cockpit surrounds among other changes. “The whole principle including the top body is kind of extending a principle that we really started to push quite hard last year.” said Newey.

“It’s a credit to all the guys back at the factory, obviously,” he added. “We’ve got a tremendous team of engineers, and then that spreads through to the whole organisation and their enthusiasm and drive and creativity is what you see here before you.”

Stroll avoids pit penalty

Aston Martin was not penalised for releasing Lance Stroll’s car from its pit box alongside Kevin Magnussen’s car as the stewards deemed he wasn’t able to blend into the traffic in the pit lane. Magnussen had Valtteri Bottas close behind.

“Car 18 [Stroll] exited the pit stop in the working lane slightly behind car 20 [Magnussen] in the fast lane,” the stewards noted. “Appendix L Chapter IV Article 5 b) [of the International Sporting Code] states that car 18 should blend into the fast lane as soon as it is safe to do so and without impeding any car in the fast lane. Because car 20 was in the fast lane and was followed closely by car 77 [Bottas], it is not possible to determine that car 18 could have blended prior to the pit exit.”

Stroll overtook Magnussen as they left the pits, which the stewards ruled was legal. “At the pit exit line, car 18 was still behind car 20. Car 18 overtook car 20 in the pit exit road. This is not prohibited.”

Suzuka showed Ferrari’s “real step forward”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2024
Both Ferrari drivers made gains in the race
Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur took heart from the team’s performance in the Japanese Grand Prix, where Carlos Sainz Jnr and Charles Leclerc gained places from the starting positions to finish third and fourth respectively.

“We made a real step forward over the winter and the results of that can be seen on track,” he said. “We had a very solid Sunday, securing the best result possible after a difficult qualifying yesterday and that’s something we definitely have to work on.”

Ferrari “did everything perfectly in the race, from strategy to tyre management,” said Vasseur. “Both drivers did an excellent job in managing their respective strategies. With Carlos starting nearer the front we could be more aggressive so that he finished on a charge, pulling off several great passing moves.

“We were a bit more limited with Charles, as he was down in eighth on the grid, but he drove an excellent first stint and so we were able to execute a one-stop strategy that meant he made up a lot of places.”

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“Mixed feelings” for Haas after missing points

Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu had “mixed feelings” about his team’s performance at Suzuka, a track they predicted would not suit their car.

“In the end, we missed out being in the top 10 by five seconds with Nico [Hulkenberg] which is very frustrating,” he said. “On the positive side, our race pace today was much better than what we saw earlier in the weekend, so the changes the team made after FP3 and before qualifying worked well.”

Nico Hulkenberg gained two places at the original start but lost more than that due to a poor getaway at the restart.

“The first start was fine but on the second start he didn’t do the procedure correctly so he went into anti-stall and lost positions,” Komatsu explained. “From there to recover to almost scoring points was very encouraging, so that’s the positive we’re going to take.”

French GP needs major funding to return

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said the French Grand Prix needs government backing to return to the calendar. The race was last held in 2022 at Paul Ricard.

“In a marriage you must have at least two people who agree so what we need is interest from France, for the country to understand that, when today you want to organise a Formula 1 grand prix, you need a significant investment,” he told Canal Plus.

“I think it can be organised at a central level with the government. For example, when we come here [to Japan] there is the prime minister and then all of the other people who are in the F1 project. Because F1 is a possibility for the country to be represented throughout the world.”

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Comment of the day

Are Mercedes really making progress with their W15? Kotrba isn’t convinced:

The car is awful. They had no business fighting the top four teams today. They were lucky Alonso was on subpar strategy as he chose Softs at the restart, and then managed to hold Piastri behind him and block him in progress.

This will be the worst of seasons for Mercedes since 2021. They not only made zero progress since 2022, they have fallen back significantly.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Craig Woollard!

On this day in motorsport

  • 40 years ago today Roberto Moreno won the second round of the Formula 2 season at the Hockenheimring ahead of round one winner Mike Thackwell, putting the pair tied at the top of the championship.

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41 comments on “Newey calls RB20 “a more extreme version” of dominant 2023 car”

  1. Unfortunately F1 has nothing to do with design these days, and its all about politics and who can do what to their power unit. Red Bull’s complete domination on straights has nothing to do with DRS or ‘efficiency’, its outright power disparity. Just like when Wolff came in to F1, and made teams like Williams an offer they couldn’t refuse.

    Its too predictable, and its not very much a sport if teams are anchored to an engine formula which is draining the customers dry of the tribute liberty pays them. The rules should not be endangering the competition, but they are.

    1. And that is why you had Tsunoda complain about having to overtake in the sector 1 corners because of struggling to overtake down the straight with DRS.

      Really don’t know where these simplistic opinions come from. It is definitely a matter of efficiency that puts Red Bull that muc further ahead compared to RB using the same engine.

  2. RB had a dominant 2019 car? They won three races as opposed to Merc’s 15! You’ve tired Keith, go to bed!!

    1. @jazz Obviously it’s a typo, he meant the RB19 not 2019. Can happen easily not a major problem.

      1. @montreal95 Yeah, I was being flippant, but not in any kind of malicious way!

      2. Obviously it’s a typo, he meant the RB19 not 2019.

        Nit picky, but AN referred to the 2022 car, which was the RB18 – the one developed with the cost cap breach.

        “Really the sort of architecture of the car, has stayed very similar,” he told Sky. “Third generation since ’22. The aero principles which you now see on this year’s car compared to last year, it’s a route that we were taking really since early ’22 and it’s just a more extreme version or route down the same path.”

        So good to know the rules breach effects were a one and gone, isn’t it?

        1. Yeah, that 2 million dollar overspend financed the creation of the whole ‘architecture’ and ‘aero principle’. Red Bull would probably be stumped by the 107% rule had they stayed within the cap.

    2. Yes, I noticed that too, if there was a dominant car in 2019 it was mercedes and not as much as red bull nowadays.

  3. Some teams not having 3 new cars for the early races used to be fairly common.

    The reason it wasn’t as big an issue as it is today is because the chassis never used to need to be homologated for the season so teams were able to take the previous seasons chassis for use as the spare.

    Heck were even times when teams would start the year racing the old car with both or just one driver.

    But now they can’t do that due to the homologation rules so if they can’t get 3 new chassis ready they are potentially in trouble.

    Was reported on F1TV over the weekend that Williams aren’t the only team that don’t have a spare chassis.

  4. No team is ever going to beat RBR while Newey is there, unless they get an awful engine, especially if they have Max or someone of at least somewhat near caliber there. While I think Max’s quali pace is extremely overblown and he’s no faster than other top drivers when it comes to quali, what makes Max dominant is his uncanny ability to make tires last for seemingly forever while running insanely fast lap times. Sure, he has the car and downforce to do it, but he also did it when teammates with Daniel. While Daniel actually out qualified him, he could rarely match Max in his ability to keep his pace up without wearing out his tires.

    It was also the main difference between Lewis and his teammates. How often did we Bottas’ only be able to keep up with Lewis’ pace for literally half as long before his tires were absolutely fried?

    1. Regarding Verstappen’s qualifying vs race pace… perhaps that is because he sets the car up more with the race in mind? Schumacher very much did this throughout his career, he knew which day the points were awarded.

      1. Back in Schumacher’s glory days there were no parc ferme rules and the car could be set up for qualifying then changed to a race setup. Can’t do that now, have to run what you qualified.

    2. No team is ever going to beat RBR while Newey is there

      People lionising Adrian Newey completely miss the fact he’s not designing and building the entire car himself. It’s the entire team working cohesively from the same hymn sheet that works.

      1. That is exactly it.
        It is a team effort and you only have to listen to the mechanics on podcasts to understand how much it means to all of them to perform well.
        Newey is a huge asset and especially so during an aero dominated period and even more so right now because of his understanding of ground effect. However, there are so many factors that go into creating a winning team and Adrian himself is the first to recognise that.

      2. People lionize drivers without everyone making this point over and over again. I’d say considering that every single team Newey ever went to ended up having the most dominant chassis on the grid shows that it’s him and not the rest of the team that describes the lion’s share of the credit. Even during Schumacher’s dominant run, more often than not the McLaren was clearly faster, but extremely unreliable while MSC went something like 3 straight seasons without a mechanical DNF. During Alonso’s two WDC, the McLaren was usually faster, sometimes much faster, but again always having mechanical DNFs. It’s also clear that after the four straight Vettel titles, the RBR stayed the best car aerodynamically.

        So, yeah, after 30 years of his chassis being the best on the grid 85% of the time no matter which team he went to, I’m pretty confident it was him and of course there were always smart people around in every team to take care of their respective details. And remember, he just doesn’t do aero, he designs the suspension and elements of the drivetrain too.

        If Newey wasn’t the primary difference maker, other teams would have caught up, especially since siphoning off some of the most senior engineers from RBR during the past four years.

        1. deserves* (not describes)

          Is there any other designer on the grid who designs almost every aspect of the car besides the PU? I’m genuinely asking. Because I’ve never heard of one.

          1. I’ve always felt one of the exceptional elements about Newey beyond his design capabilities is his understanding of what is needed around him to create it all. He is probably the one man on the grid who I believe could actually be an independent team owner, he knows what structure he wants. It is of course that structure that creates the team and the results they achieve. I think those of us who have enjoyed F1 for many years recognise his exceptional talents but for my part I also recognise that there are many, many others elements to a winning team.
            Kudos should be given to Horner for not only tempting him to Red Bull in the first place but also keeping him there for the last 18 years. Given Newey’s recognised talents and the packages no doubt offered to him that is quite the feat by Horner.

        2. Nick, I’d agree that Newey is an exceptional chief designer, but his reputation may also be a factor in the team’s success, that the rest of the team respect him more and he gives them a clear overall design path instead of each design area working on their own baby. For the latest cars, it seems to be that he set the parameters of suspension first then build the rest around that. I think we should also remember that Newey has been around longer than most designers, so he has rare experience of the first generation of ground effect cars and knew that things like porpoising would be an issue and how they would have to go about solving that, wheras other teams seemed to think it was something they could just iron out with tweaks once they got to the tracks.

          Kudos should be given to Horner for not only tempting him to Red Bull in the first place etc

          That is absolutely right. Everything I read about Frank Williams makes it sound like he wanted to be in control of everything, had trouble keeping drivers once they became successful, not because of money, but because he couldn’t give them the credit they deserved, because he didn’t listen to them enough, and the same was true of Newey. Newey wanted to be more than just “the designer”, he wanted a higher position in the organisation, more freedom in the way the design process worked, and Frank Williams wouldn’t give him that. Horner recognised what Newey wanted, which is more than just money, (although the money always helps).

          1. I agree with everything you said, Alan. Mr. B too. Lots of people from Dieter to Horner deserve huge amounts of credit for putting the structure in place for Newey to just get on with it. McLaren and Williams threw it away with leaders who didn’t realize his value, who allowed too much political infighting and wanted too much control (Frank being the worst of all of them in his inability to stick to his promises to Adrian or allow the slightest delegation of control).

  5. A temporary circuit in Nice or maybe even the Paris area is the only realistic way for the French GP to return someday.

    Regarding Mark Lane’s tweet: DRS isn’t very effective in Suzuka & never has been.
    Attempting to pass into the chicane by staying behind on the detection line is the best possible move.

    1. Regarding Mark Lane’s tweet: DRS isn’t very effective in Suzuka & never has been.

      @jerejj did you not watch yesterdays race?

      90% of the passes in the drs zone were far too easy because of how powerful DRS was in those instances. It was horrid yesterday in that regard.

      1. To be fair, a lot of those passes were made after a driver struggling on tires totally screwed up the chicane. So, it was not the DRS being too powerful at all. Turn 1 is also one of the few corners there’s any room to use extra grip and speed going into the turn to make a pass.

        It is a shame though that we’ll likely never seen an insane pass like the one Alonso made on Schumacher in the 130R again. These cars are too heavy and wide and the drivers knows a DRS pass is safer and more high %.

  6. The best news for Ferrari is not that the car is good, or that the drivers did a great job. It’s that the strategy was great, and they executed it well. In fact, I don’t recall a team foul up all year so far.

    The whole team did a great job this weekend, and deserved the reward. Well done Fred.

    Progress, finally.

    1. @sham
      While your point is valid, it is huge for them to have made so much progress with the car. To make the one-stop work with last years Ferrari would be nothing less than impossible. I agree though, usually a car giving the strategist more options seemed to result in more ‘sub-optimal’ choices at Ferrari… I hope they can keep this up

    2. In fact, I don’t recall a team foul up all year so far.

      Aw, please don’t attract the lightning.
      I keep wishing for Ferrari to have a good season – one where they don’t have drivers binning it, engines that blow, pit stops that last way too long and the strategists don’t totally muck up.
      Wishing for more than one might be pushing the limits.

    3. Fred deserves a lot of credit for enabling this. Binotto, though maybe well intentioned in trying to keep Ferrari from falling back into the culture of fear / blame and fire, was so insanely myopic when he could never admit strategy blunder after strategy and blown stops were simply amateur hour mistakes and deserved accountability. It made him look ridiculous. It was such a relief to see them finally get rid of Inouke or whatever his name was.

  7. Its very sad that drivers have no incentive to overtake into the chicane because the DRS zone is next and it’s easier to do it there. That’s the main problem with the DRS, it kills racing at every other part of the circuit. Its really depressing as a fan, DRS racing is the lamest possible way of competing…

    1. notagrumpyfan
      8th April 2024, 7:55

      DRS was so strong drivers were still able to overtaken at the Esses, Spoon, and even 130R :P

      1. Precisely, if they can overtake at all those corners, why do we need DRS at all.

      2. the passing in the esses & stuff was primarily because of how massive the performance difference was on fresh tires.

        all of the passes in the esses & the one’s we saw into spoon were as a result of a car on fresh tires been 2-3 seconds faster than the car they were passing. When you have that big of a performance advantage & that much more grip your going to be able to pass anywhere.

        it is just another example of show over sport and quantity over quality.

        there wasn’t any actual competitive overtaking between cars in a genuine fight for position and of reasonably equal performance. it was all artificial speed boosts with drs and mario kart tyres.

        the goal should be truly competitive racing and overtaking rather than just creating quantity to pad the stat books.

      3. That was because of people running at different stages of tyre life. And whoever was on fresh tyres needed to get past fast because of the tyre advantage. But if it was similar conditions between both cars there’s no incentive to try anywhere other than the DRS zone. And that sucks.

    2. That is one of the things I despise most about the Dumb Racing System. With DRS in many instances, especially on circuits where it is very effective, it puts all of the focus onto just the parts of the track that are drs zones.

      The focus of the racing comes down to where the detection zone line is, what the gap is at said line and where the activation line is for the FIA approved passing zone (which is effectively what DRS zones are).

      Without DRS the focus isn’t on just the FIA approved passing zones and drivers need to have a go anywhere they can because the whole track is in focus.

      You look back to Imola a few years ago where DRS wasn’t activated for ages. Drivers were having a go at overtaking at several different points around the circuit, They were having to think about positioning the car to have a go at places all around the track and we saw some overtaking outside of the DRS zone. As soon as DRS was enabled they started to fall back into the DRS mode of staying in line around the rest of the track & only having a look at passing when they had DRS so the racing became far less dynamic.

  8. In many ways we’re very lucky Renault dropped the ball so badly with these hybrid power units

    Red Bull always had a fairly strong chassis performance during the last two rule set periods

    For all the complaints we’ve had about the stints of dominance we’ve had, could you imagine how things would have been from 2010 to now if it weren’t for Red Bull being hamstrung by Renault?

    1. Yep. In fact Newey teams might have won around 21 or 22 of the last 24 championships if all the teams had the same power units.

      1. That’s quite a frightening thought! It does seem puzzling though the way people complain that Mercedes only won because they had the best engine, as if this was somehow an unfair advantge, whereas Red Bull only won because they had the best chassis is seen as totally fair.

        1. Yeah. I think it’s because a) we never see the engine people really and b) you have the illusion that it’s the driver being better and no the aero while just pulling away on the straights seems more unfair even when it’s really no different.

          1. not the aero*

    2. For all the complaints we’ve had about the stints of dominance we’ve had, could you imagine how things would have been from 2010 to now if it weren’t for Red Bull being hamstrung by Renault?

      If that had happened, things would be different now.
      Not even Liberty and their deep pockets can make the teams agree to an era of single-team dominance of that length.
      Growing profit from mass consumption is still the goal for Liberty, and extended dominance erodes that.

      Each period of dominance is one step closer to F1 becoming fully spec. The manufacturers won’t be upset about that eventuality, either – their participation in spec and BoP series is as strong as it has ever been.

      1. Agreed, but how could prevent that from happening if you just kept changing spec and he just kept producing the best one out of the box?

        1. I think F1 has shown several times what it can do to prevent one team from making the best car for too long….
          Many people don’t like it when those steps are taken – but it’s ultimately for the benefit of everyone who participates in, watches or makes money from F1.

          Everyone in F1 knows where the dominant team of the time is getting most of their relative performance benefit from – it’s pretty easy to target that/those area/s of the car with technical changes (such as the floor, for example).
          The only difficulties are in having to weather the (social) media storm and the dominant team’s complaining.

          1. They’d have to make the aero regs so simple and constrained only the engine provided any real performance difference. Newey would just quit at that point.

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