Adrian Newey discredits ‘radical’ Red Bull theory with full RB20 explanation

Henry Valantine
Adrian Newey holds his notebook on the Bahrain grid.

Adrian Newey and his team have built another race winner in the Red Bull RB20.

Despite looking significantly different to the RB19 on the outside, Adrian Newey has said the Red Bull RB20 is far from a step into the unknown, rather it is a “third evolution of the RB18” in key areas.

Having dominated the 2022 season, Red Bull opted to build on its RB18 success by evolving it for the RB19 and went on to break records by winning 21 of the 22 Grands Prix last season.

Adrian Newey: Red Bull RB20 ‘not at all’ a ‘step into the unknown’

When the 2024 Formula 1 cars were launched, it was hardly a surprise to see many of the teams take on aerodynamic solutions similar to the all-conquering RB19 when they unveiled their new challengers, but the real shock came when Red Bull launched their 2024 car, as it looked to have drawn inspiration from Mercedes’ car of last year in certain areas.

Given that the car looked so different from the outside, this got the paddock talking about the change of direction Red Bull had taken for the season and the bold step they had gone about in departing from a design philosophy that had proven so successful for them.

But when asked about that himself, Red Bull chief technical officer Newey confirmed that underneath what we can see, there’s a significant portion of the car that remains similar from its 2022 design – and there are “much more subtle bits” on the car design that people haven’t picked up yet for where significant gains have been made.

“No, not at all,” Newey responded on the F1 Nation podcast when asked if the RB20 was a ‘step into the unknown’ compared to its predecessor.

“I mean, the underlying architecture of the car is the third generation evolution of what started as RB18.

“Where we carry everything, apart from the radiators, they’ve changed, but apart from that, the layout of the front suspension, the rear suspension, the gearbox, casing, et cetera, it’s a third evolution of RB18.

“The bits that are visible, and they’ve obviously caused quite a lot of attention, obviously, we’re pursuing aerodynamic gains there, but the visual change is actually much, much larger than the performance change you get from that and there are other much more subtle bits, that people haven’t noticed, that are probably responsible for a bigger gain.”

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A huge part of Red Bull’s success last season came through the RB19’s adaptability on a wide range of circuits, with Max Verstappen winning 19 races all on his own – a new all-time Formula 1 record.

Newey acknowledged that the Singapore Grand Prix, the only race Red Bull did not win, was indicative of the weakness of last year’s car, but producing an all-rounder of a car was the team’s main aim.

“That’s what we’ve tried to achieve, is a car that is reasonably well suited to all circuits,” he said.

“I think, typically, last year are the circuits that we had less of an advantage on were the maximum downforce street tracks.

“Singapore, obviously, we made famously made a bit of a mess of, underperformed to what we could have achieved – I think we could have certainly achieved podiums there had we got our act together a bit better.

“But it certainly is true to say that those circuits are the ones that we probably have less advantage on, but as long as we’re not disastrous on them, then maybe that’s good enough.”

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