Red Bull’s bold move: Embracing the failed Mercedes concept?

Red Bull Racing has once again turned heads in the Formula 1 world, this time with the unveiling of their 2024 car, the RB20, which significantly deviates from last year’s ultra-dominant design. At the Milton-Keynes launch, Sergio Perez couldn’t hide his admiration for the team’s bold direction. “We had such a dominant car last year that you wouldn’t imagine us changing the concept so much,” Perez remarked.

Max Verstappen, the team’s leading driver and triple world champion, described the design evolution from the RB19 to the RB20 as “controlled aggression,” indicating a strategic yet daring approach to maintaining their competitive edge. The RB20 boasts three standout features that particularly captivated onlookers: innovative vertical cooling intakes, a distinctive bodywork shape behind the cockpit reminiscent of Mercedes’ previous concepts, and a uniquely extended nose that reaches the front of the main blade of the front wing—a stark contrast to the shorter solutions now favored by other teams.

Frederic Ferret of L’Equipe and Tobias Gruner from Auto Motor und Sport both noted the car’s radical aesthetics and engineering choices, with Gruner drawing parallels between the RB20 and earlier Mercedes designs.

“We were looking for the air intakes for a long time,” admitted Ferret, with Gruner quipping: “The new Red Bull is a little reminiscent of the old Mercedes.”

Christian Horner, Red Bull’s team principal, proudly acknowledged the car’s “bold design,” emphasizing the creative risks taken to push the boundaries of F1 innovation. “You certainly can’t describe it as a conservative evolution,” Horner stated, dismissing any notion of the redesign being a mere diversion for rival teams now adopting Red Bull’s previous concepts.

Verstappen shared his initial surprise upon seeing the 2024 design plans, acknowledging the significant departure from conventional wisdom. “I saw the drawings in Abu Dhabi at the last race and thought ‘wow, there are big changes there’. They weren’t conservative, let’s put it that way,” he said, expressing his appreciation for the team’s ambitious and risk-taking ethos.

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