‘High suspicions’ raised over RB20 as Mercedes’ ‘party mode’ feature revisited – F1 news round-up

Henry Valantine
The Red Bull RB20 under a light. F1 news

The launch spec of the Red Bull RB20. Photo: Red Bull Content Pool.

Who else is excited for the cars to go testing? We can’t hear you so we’ll assume it’s a ‘yes’. Anyway, here’s a look at Tuesday’s F1 news.

Any cars that didn’t make it out on track for a pre-testing shakedown took the opportunity to use time in Bahrain to do so, while preparations ramped up for the first of three test days on Wednesday.

That alongside plenty of paddock opinion to come from the best of Tuesday’s F1 news headlines.

Did Red Bull unveil a ‘dummy car’ at the RB20 launch?

Sky F1’s Bernie Collins wonders if Red Bull pulled the covers off a ‘dummy car’ in the launch spec of the RB20 in Milton Keynes last week.

With her years as a strategist meaning she is never one to take what teams show at face value, she wonders if the radically different design compared to the RB19 was something to throw people off the scent of what is really to come for the reigning World Champions.

“I think maybe years in F1 have made me suspicious,” Collins said in the latest Sky F1 podcast, “so let’s see the car that rolls out on Day One in Bahrain [testing] because I’m not sure it’s going to be that car.

“This could just be a little joke.”

Put to her it could be a “dummy car”, she said: “Yeah, I am highly suspicious but let’s see.”

Read more: ‘High suspicions’ over Red Bull emerge as RB20 ‘dummy car’ theory revealed

Max Verstappen revisits frustration of Mercedes’ ‘party mode’ era

With an engine that gave them a bit of extra power in key moments, known coloquially as ‘party mode’ in their dominant era, Mercedes and their power unit sat top of the tree while they were commanding the sport.

Max Verstappen was left frustrated at this as a result, claiming this engine mode painted a “distorted picture” of the true pace balance at times.

He told German publication Motorsport-Magazin: “Sometimes it looked like we were close in qualifying. But I think it’s always difficult to say because you never know how good the other guys’ laps were, and then it was also the case that one particular engine manufacturer had a party mode from 2014 to 2017 or 2018.

“If they wanted, they had more in their hands. So there was a bit of a distorted picture at that time. They did it very smartly, because why show everything when you’re winning anyway? Of course, there is a pole-to-win ratio… But I always see it like this: points are scored on Sunday. Saturdays are not so important.”

Read more: Max Verstappen: Mercedes ‘party mode’ gave ‘distorted picture’ of competitiveness

Williams hit the track after running ‘late’ with launch car

Having opted for more simulation time at their factory with the FW46, Williams took their new car for a spin for the first time on Tuesday in Bahrain.

Alpine and Haas were also seen out on track in Sakhir taking in some laps around the circuit that will be their home for the next week and a half, but Williams getting mileage under their belts is always a key moment for any team in their season.

James Vowles explained to media including PlanetF1.com of this decision to leave their first run until a little bit later: “We could easily have run down there, but there was a balance between doing the virtual track test and Silverstone.

“I much rather wanted to spend the time dedicated to the virtual track test and we’ll shake it down in Bahrain.”

Read more: F1’s ‘late’ team hits track in Bahrain for last pre-testing shakedown

Exclusive: Giancarlo Fisichella discusses Tifosi support for Lewis Hamilton at Ferrari

Former Ferrari driver Giancarlo Fisichella spoke exclusively to PlanetF1.com about the move everyone is talking about in Formula 1 at the moment, with Lewis Hamilton set to head to the Scuderia from 2025.

“Lewis is a fantastic driver and obviously, signing for Ferrari means a lot for him,” Fisichella exclusively told PlanetF1.com, in association with Betway. “But also, for the people inside Ferrari, they need to trust him.

“They need to support him because Ferrari needs anything. He could be good to be back and fight for the championship. I’m sure about that.”

Read more: Ferrari given Lewis Hamilton ‘support’ message after past Tifosi clashes

David Coulthard confirms RB20 was ‘launch iteration’ car with upgrades on the go

Having long been associated with Red Bull, since the very beginning of their time in Formula 1, David Coulthard explained that the team are more than likely to bring upgrades with them to Bahrain and fit them during testing, and potentially even before the first race weekend.

Coulthard told F1.com: “Even if you went out and thought the car was amazing in a shakedown, the only thing that matters is Saturday qualifying and ultimately Sunday race [at the first round] in Bahrain.

“It’s a launch iteration… there will be upgrades coming to the test up until the last day and there might even be an upgrade that comes for the Friday of the Bahrain race, and all of these upgrades are expected to change performance, balance and lap time.”

Read more: Red Bull insider confirms real RB20 plan with upgrades already in pipeline