According to 1996 F1 World Champion Damon Hill, the aerodynamics of the Red Bull RB19 was not the main area of focus for their design guru Adrian Newey.
It is safe to say that Red Bull’s 2022 creation, the RB18, set a very high bar for the team with that challenger taking 17 of the 22 grand prix victories last season, a record 15 of those courtesy of Max Verstappen.
But, its successor, the RB19, has already made a dominant start to the F1 2023 campaign, Verstappen taking pole in Bahrain and then leaving the field in the dust as he began his title defence in ideal fashion.
For Red Bull, having Newey, who has also designed title-winning cars for Williams and McLaren, is seen as one of their key assets; this is someone who team boss Christian Horner recently said is “the only bloke that can see air!”
But, Hill has heard that Newey was not in fact predominantly overseeing the aerodynamics of the RB19, and instead went to work on its suspension.
And this is far from a trivial area on a Formula 1 car, Hill arguing that actually it is one of the most important, as these challengers lose or gain so much time on a lap through the slow-speed sections.
Put to him on the F1 Nation podcast that ‘your man Adrian’s done it again’, Hill replied: “He’s been a very successful person and there’s so many different teams now that he’s turned around and waved his magic wand over.
“But Christian is always at pains to point out that it’s a team effort, and in actual fact, I learned that actually, Adrian spent more time on suspension of this car than he did on the aerodynamics.
“And that points a little bit towards where the time comes from these days with these cars, these big heavy cars, and the way the aerodynamics work, that the weight of the car becomes an issue in slow corners.
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“And many of the listeners will be probably quite surprised to hear this, but racing cars, there’s so much time in slow corners, there’s probably more time in slow corners than there is in fast corners.
“You thought it’s all about speed, but it’s actually about…it is about speed, but it’s about the slow speeds. So yeah, Adrian spent quite a lot of time on the suspension. It may be that he was working on the aerodynamic effects of the suspension, but whatever, the car looks fantastic.”
The RB19 was dominant in Bahrain, but the Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Corniche Circuit, will put the car through a totally different challenge with its high-speed sweeping corners.
Tyre management was also a major strength for Red Bull in Bahrain, though the Jeddah track traditionally is not as demanding on the Pirelli rubber as Bahrain is.