Adrian Newey delivers telling admission as RB20 design philosophy revealed

Thomas Maher
Adrian Newey, Red Bull, 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Adrian Newey believes Red Bull would probably have won in Japan without their upgrade package.

With Red Bull introducing a comprehensive upgrade at Suzuka, Adrian Newey spoke about their impact following another 1-2 finish.

Red Bull clinched their third 1-2 finish of the 2024 season in Japan, bouncing back from their disappointing Australian weekend with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez delivering the maximum haul of points for the Milton Keynes-based squad.

Red Bull introduce upgrade package for RB20

Coming into the weekend, speculation had been rife that Red Bull were set to introduce a ‘zero-pod’ concept to the RB20, exploring the idea that Mercedes had evaluated at the beginning of the ground-effect era.

While Red Bull did show up with an upgrade for their sidepods, it was less drastic than had been theorised – a new sidepod inlet was introduced for the mounted primary heat exchangers, reducing the amount of exit area needed further down the car.

Camber and surface changes were also introduced to the floor body and edge, as well as smaller inlet and exit ducts for the brakes.

With Red Bull clinching the 1-2, did the team need the upgrades in order to deliver the win, or might Ferrari have overcome them had the RB20 not been updated?

The team’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey smiled when asked this question by Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz as Newey watched the drivers celebrate on the podium.

“Well, we know our performance, theoretically,” he said, with Kravitz quickly asking what it may have been: “I’m not telling you that bit!”

Referring to the upgrade package, Newey said, “As far as we can see from the pressure sensors and the load cells, it delivered what it said on the tin from the wind tunnel. It was a small step forward.”

But Newey hinted that Red Bull probably would have managed the win regardless, even without the upgrades, such is the inherent performance of the RB20 in the early stages of the championship.

“I think this weekend would have probably been okay anyway,” he said.

“But we all know it’s going to tighten up so we just keep pushing.” recommends

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Adrian Newey: The principles of RB20 stem back to 2022

Newey and chief engineer Paul Monaghan have played down the extent of the changes to the RB20 compared to its RB19 predecessor, the most dominant car in F1’s history.

But, with the continued steps forward being made in terms of performance, with no sign that Red Bull have yet reached the theoretical limit of the current regulations, Newey said it’s testament to the hard work being carried out at their base in Milton Keynes.

“It’s a credit to all the guys back at the factory obviously. We have a tremendous team of engineers,” he said.

“That spreads through to the whole organisation and their enthusiasm, drive, and creativity are what you see here before you.”

Newey explained that the name of the game has been steady evolution, stemming back to the introduction of the RB18 at the start of the ground-effect era.

“Really the car, the architecture of the car has stayed very similar, it’s the third generation since 2022,” he said.

“The aero principles that you now see on this year’s car compared to last year’s, it’s a route that we were taking really since early 2022, and it’s just a more extreme version or route down that same path.”

Asked whether that means it’s all related to under-the-skin components and designs that aren’t visible externally, Newey confirmed it does, as well as to the visible: “Exactly. Well, the whole whole principle including the top body, which is kind of extending a principle that we really started to push quite hard last year.”

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