Yuki Tsunoda, RB, Circuit de Catalunya, 2024

“Aggressive” upgrade left RB off pace “from the start of practice” – Mekies

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In the round-up: RB were disappointed with their performance after they introduced a significant upgrade for their car in Spain.

In brief

RB’s “high hopes” dashed in Spain

RB team principal Laurent Mekies said the team had “high hopes” for their performance in Spain where they brought the fruits of an “aggressive development strategy.”

“Unfortunately, right from the start of free practice we were lacking pace in every session,” he admitted. “There is no point denying this was a poor weekend for us and although the gaps were very small, we’re not going to make excuses for the fact we just weren’t competitive.”

Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda were eliminated in Q1 and neither scored points. “Given our starting positions, it would have required some unusual circumstances – rain, a Safety Car – but the race was pretty linear,” Mekies added.

Palou relieved “too risky” strategy paid off

Grand Prix of Monterey winner Alex Palou was frustrated at himself for letting Kyle Kirkwood pass him at the start of Sunday’s race, which led his team to make a strategic gamble by not pitting during a pivotal Safety Car period in his second stint.

“It was a really tough race,” he said. “Lots of up and downs. It went down on the first corner when I did a mistake, played it too nice, lost the lead. Then, as well, on the first pit sequence.

“At the beginning of the race, I wasn’t really executing. The car was really fast. I couldn’t overtake Kyle. That kind of put us in a bad position. I was not really happy with myself at the beginning. The team had to do a really risky strategy, too risky in my opinion.”

However Ganassi’s decision not to pit Palou ultimately paid off, as he used the free air to pull ahead of his rivals and was able to overtake Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta after he pitted.

“Sometimes you need a little bit of luck,” he said, adding: “It was not luck, honestly, we just stayed out. [But] we were obviously putting ourselves in danger in case there was a yellow.”

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Comment of the day

@Uzsjgb suspects it won’t just be Esteban Ocon looking to leave Alpine at the end of the year:

I think Alpine will have to look for two new drivers, for Gasly any other team will seem more attractive than Alpine. My guess is that Audi will sign Gasly, if they can’t get Sainz. Alpine will have to take what they can get, either rookies or rejects from other teams. That would probably be Bottas and Zhou, maybe even Magnussen.

If Bottas does get dropped by Audi he would be the obvious pick. In Alpine’s situation picking a rookie makes little sense, so Doohan is out. That leaves Schumacher, who may be picked because there is nobody else left.

There may also be one other driver: Liam Lawson. So far Red Bull has not wanted to give him a seat, I personally feel they are still evaluating Hadjar and Iwasa, who both are having really good seasons. I see more potential there, than in Lawson. Red Bull may feel (contractually) obliged to find Lawson a seat and he may be a bargaining chip in engine supply deliberations.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Kim Philby and Brandonrc!

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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22 comments on ““Aggressive” upgrade left RB off pace “from the start of practice” – Mekies”

  1. Here’s a conspiracy theory to float – the RB aggressive upgrade isn’t meant to be an upgrade for their car and that’s why it’s not working, it’s meant for the senior team. Wouldn’t put it past that bunch of shysters.

    1. notagrumpyfan
      25th June 2024, 6:29

      Or it might be a lure to get the conspiracy theorists to expose themselves :p

    2. @jazz tinfold hat? no i think the upgrade would work much better in Austria as it brought stability instant when pushing but it was slow … too much drag possible we see if they are fast again in Austria they added too much drag :)

      Also a team can’t develop something and let a other team make it the team must show the evolution of the developed parts.

    3. Aston Martin’s upgrade has made them even slower. RBR has had failed upgrades. So, I think a failed upgrade is no big surprise. And I’m not sure what they could learn from a very different car.

  2. RE CoTD Slightly off piste, but with Sainz taking so long to make a decision, I wonder if McLaren is trying to lure him back to rekindle the bromance with Norris? Not that’s there is anything wrong with Oscar but you would suspect Sainz would still be better?

    With Mark Webber managing Oscar, webber could be rekindling relationships with Falvio, who used to manage Webber and Alonso. So Flavio might end up with the team Alpine should have had 3 years ago.

    1. Sainz better than Piastri? I don’t think so, I’d much rather see Oscar in the car.

    2. Mooa42 Nothing is definitely changing at Mclaren.

    3. Alpine is sudenly interested there were talks with Alpine CEO & leadership and Sainz management last weekend. It doesn’t hurt to listen in what they have to tell.

    4. No, it’s been made clear the decision has been made and he wanted to make the announcement, but it seems Mercedes and Williams wanted to delay the announcement for some reason.

    5. No way. I see no chance of Piastri leaving Mclaren for Alpine, and Mclaren wanting to choose Sainz over their rising star…

  3. The issue referred to in the EA post paragraph didn’t affect me at all before the most recent update.

    I already replied to the COTD in the original article, most importantly regarding Doohan, but to be a bit different here, Magnussen definitely seems like he’s on his way out of F1 again, & even if Renault were to ditch their PU program altogether, Alpine would most likely become either a Mercedes or Honda customer.

    1. Tjallare…

  4. That tweet from Spanners . . . he’s not wrong is he?

  5. I hope that father-son blackmail team get a long time in prison.

  6. The fact that upgrades don’t work like they anticipated to me says a lot about computer modelling and the propensity for teams to rely on it.

    Either data isn’t quite the great thing that they think it is, or the humans responsible for manufacturing the various components are misreading the output from the design teams.

    It’s quite surprising that so much money is being spent on development that doesn’t deliver in this day and age of checks and balances (and budget caps).

    1. I think it just proves like with the Mercedes this year and Aston Martin last year that if anything is slightly off in your modelling the number of variables that can affect the performance on these ground effect cars mean you can go round in circles trying to identify if the issue is in setup, your concept or a unforseen interaction in your package as a whole. In 5-10 years time the ground effect modelling will be so much more effective and we’ll be back to predictable development improvements.

      Ultimately the biggest flaw of the budget cap era is if your modelling is not producing the results there is no way to ever recover. You can’t throw more time or resources at the problem so you just fall further and further behind until you solve the problem, at which point if you’re lucky you’ll take a big step forward. All the budget cap does is seal in the advantage for the lead time and prevent anyone from having any tools to catch you. The engine freeze has compounded this.

    2. An Sionnach
      25th June 2024, 15:05

      Rubbish in, rubbish out. They can’t model what they can’t understand and end up wasting more money by going whole seasons with cars that would not have been built before testing was restricted.

      1. +1

        They need more real world testing, especially during the season. Or they at least need to give teams the option to put more of their resources into real world testing if they so choose.

        1. The teams play a large part in writing the rules, and they don’t seem to think that real-world (physical/destructive) testing is all that efficient.
          Clearly not worth making a higher priority…

          1. That’s a pretty huge assumption. I’d like to see @KeithCollantine or another RF journo ask TPs and engineers their thoughts on RW testing.

          2. I’d add one more caveat, which is that we’ve seen endless examples of engineers overlying on sim data in not just design, but race strategies where we often see that their tire degradation models among many things, are not working at all yet they seem not to notice what is happening in front of their very faces and are asked after the race why did you stick with that plan when it wasn’t working. They invariably answer “Well, our simulations had told us yada yada yada, but XYZ evolved away from that model.”

          3. over-relying*

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