Have Haas pinpointed Red Bull’s secret to success for the rapid RB19?

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, in front of the '1' sign. Bahrain, March 2023.

Max Verstappen parks his Red Bull RB19 in front of the '1' sign. Bahrain, March 2023.

Although Juan Molina isn’t accusing anyone on the grid of running an active suspension, Haas’ principal aerodynamicist reckons if any team had it they “would win the World Championship”.

Active suspensions were banned from F1 in 1994, part of a raft of changes aimed at eradicating driver aids, while a decade later the sport also banned FRIC, the Front-to-Rear-Inter Connected Suspension, that teams used to create a constant ride height for improved performance.

However such is the stability of the rampant RB19, which can be run very low to the ground with almost no roll while cornering, that some pundits have equated Red Bull’s system to FRIC.

And if they, or any team have managed to find a workaround, Molina reckons it would give them a clear advantage over the rest of the pack.

“I’m not saying that anyone has it, but if someone in this field had active suspension, they would win the World Championship because you can get the car and you can develop it in a specific position,” he said as per Motorsport.com.

“So that’s why we think if you understand what your car is doing, or where you want to put your car, and you can put your car there, you can get performance.

“You will probably see teams going in that direction and trying to understand how do we get the car as low as possible, how do we cure the bouncing, and then [perfecting] your high speed to low speed performance which is obviously important for the driver.”

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It’s fair to say, though, that the RB19’s superiority is based on more than just the car’s suspension – it’s DRS is said to be worth two to three tenths more than anyone else’s while the car’s straight-line and cornering speed are also a step ahead.

Molina concedes it’s not easy achieving what Red Bull have managed with their car, “if it were easy, everyone would be where Red Bull is now,” he said.

“It’s not only the bodywork, but how that works with your floor and your rear wing and how you have the different parts of the car.

“As the regulations evolve, we are converging towards a platform of performance on low speed versus high speed, etc. So, as you go towards there, the question is, where do you find the performance?

“That’s where your platform, the link between your aerodynamics and where the car is on the ground, is important.

“So, if you look at Red Bull, you can see they know where that car is and where they want to put the car exactly all the time. And that’s something that is becoming more important as the regulation evolves.”

It is an area that Haas have been working on.

“Last year,” he added, “our departments were still involved in learning to talk to each other.

“This year we are much better and you can see that it’s not just about the aerodynamics but how we link those departments together. What we develop in the tunnel, how does that translate to what you see on the track, how do you set up the car.

“People (outside the teams) focus too much on the bodywork of the cars. We all understand the differences between the concepts, even if we leave the Mercedes bodywork aside for a moment, but a lot is also happening on other areas which may not be visible to the eye.”