The ‘bigger question’ rival teams must ask before copying Red Bull’s floor

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez in action for Red Bull at the Monaco Grand Prix. Monte Carlo, May 2023.

Sergio Perez in action for Red Bull at the Monaco Grand Prix. Monte Carlo, May 2023.

Trying to copy Red Bull’s floor is probably the easier part of the equation with Dave Robson saying understanding “how” they got there is the “more interesting question.”

Red Bull’s complex floor was revealed to the world at the Monaco Grand Prix when Sergio Perez crashed his RB19 in qualifying, with the car lifted into air by a crane in order for the session to continue.

Left dangling there for all to see, photographers were snap-happy with rival teams’ aerodynamicists and engineers poring over the pictures.

But as has been noted several times copying the intricate design, which not only has elements coming down but also curving, is easier said that done.

Although rival teams can replicate the floor’s design, understanding how it works with the rest of the car and why Red Bull’s design guru Adrian Newey went down that path won’t be easy.

“It’s fascinating, definitely,” Robson said as per The Race. “How valuable it is is a little bit harder to say.

“There’s very little on an F1 car aerodynamically that you can just copy.

“You have to understand what it’s doing and make it work for your car, or understand all the other parts that go with it. And that floor is a great example of that, it’s just a whole new level.

“You’ve somehow got to pick it apart. It is genuinely difficult to understand how all those curves work in three-dimensional space, it’s that complicated.

“What’s more telling is trying to understand. There are a few bits where you can see what they’re doing geometrically, so you can mock something up and test it and try and understand what it is they’re trying to achieve and then use it in your own car.

“So that’s clear and everyone will be doing that.” recommends

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That’s just the first step with the Williams head of vehicle performance saying in order to make it work, teams would need to understand how Red Bull even came to that decision.

“The bigger question is,” he continued, “how did they arrive at that in the first place? What is their process that gets to that level of complexity? It’s like a completely different paradigm.

“That’s probably the more interesting question to answer rather than what’s it actually doing right now. How did they get there? And what does it mean the next one’s going to look like?”

“I’m not an aerodynamicist, but it looks pretty daunting to me,” he added. “I suppose at the same time, as an engineering problem, it’s quite exciting to try and understand what it’s doing and how they got there. But it’s not easy.”

As Williams were having a look at Red Bull’s floor, Newey was doing the same with Williams even though his team is winning races while Williams are struggling to score points.

According to Red Bull chief engineer Paul Monaghan, a small element of the Williams FW44 was analysed and replicated on their car.

“If you find that Williams introduced a floor design that others then copied,” he said, “it was a sign that it had to give an advantage.

“It wasn’t necessarily going to work on our car, but we looked at it a couple of times and it turned out that it could give a small advantage.

“And when the solution was fitted, the result was bigger than we had actually thought. It’s certainly not the most influential thing, but it helps a bit.”