FEBRUARY 19, 2024

Similar Red Bull, RB cars raises questions

As some of their rivals feared, it appears that the sister team formerly known as Alpha Tauri has indeed taken big technical steps closer to Red Bull Racing.

Red Bull RB20
© Red Bull

Insiders were stunned last week when, after most rival teams unveiled 2024 cars much more in line with the dominant 2022-2023 Red Bull car concept, Red Bull pulled the wraps off a new single seater incorporating key aspects of the abandoned Mercedes concept.

There is now speculation that one of Red Bull's first developments early this year may be the Mercedes-like 'no sidepod' or 'zero sidepod'-style innovation.

It's fascinating and also a little disturbing, read an editorial at Corriere dello Sport newspaper. "It is astonishing that Mercedes happily abandoned the vertical air intakes, following the path of Red Bull, and at the same time Red Bull has taken the opposite path.

They dared to change, and such courage should instil fear in the opponents.

But what Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt has noticed is that there are also a suspicious number of similarities between the 2024 Red Bull and the new car unveiled by sister team RB - formerly Alpha Tauri.

The feeling on the track is excellent, enthused Visa Cash App RB driver Yuki Tsunoda. This is a big step forward compared to the same time a year ago.

Leading the worries about the ever-closer technical relationship between Red Bull Racing and RB has been McLaren CEO Zak Brown, who renewed his charge last week.

To have A-B relationships and co-ownerships of two teams on a level playing field, it's not what the fans expect, he said. The FIA really need to do something about it.

Schmidt notes that both Red Bull-owned teams are being very coy about the public images of their respective 2024 cars, but two things can already be seen.

The (RB) nose is just as slim and thin in profile as the Red Bull, he wrote, "and the sidepods have a similar overbite.

"Since both features go completely against the trend, competitors will be asking themselves at the Bahrain test how so much agreement between the sister teams can be possible.

In both cases, these are components that are difficult to copy, Schmidt added. It is a feat to get through the crash test with that nose design - even Red Bull didn't make it through on the first attempt.

Schmidt continued: "The crash structure in front of the sidepod is also not something that just pops into your mind. Mercedes premiered the trick of pushing back the sidepods to create space for the front area of the underbody, but due to the car's modest success, it wasn't obvious to copy it.

The fact that two friendly teams have now done it at least raises questions.