McLaren MP4-18 warning as Adrian Newey goes ‘incredibly aggressive’ with the RB20

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen sitting in the RB20

The latest Adrian Newey F1 car has been called 'incredibly aggressive'

Putting an “incredibly aggressive” RB20 on the track in Bahrain, Red Bull’s design genius Adrian Newey has been reminded about that one time he got it “horribly wrong” with McLaren.

Although Red Bull dominated last year’s championship in the RB19 with 21 wins from 22 Grands Prix, design guru Newey has not stuck with the tried and tested for this year’s RB20.

Instead, he’s designed a car that features Mercedes-esque sidepod inlets and engine cover, and he’s done so despite Mercedes scrapping those parts when they weren’t able to get them to work on the track.

Alex Jacques: Does Adrian Newey ever get it wrong?

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko admits the team doesn’t know if they have fallen for the same misinformation as Mercedes with the latter adamant their sim tools said that was the way to go. Their results said otherwise.

It has former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer and his fellow F1TV commentator Alex Jacques recalling the last time, and probably also the only time, Newey got it wrong.

The McLaren MP4-18.

A radical design that incorporated innovations such as the blown diffuser, the MP4-18 suffered numerous issues during testing forcing McLaren to scrap the car which was never raced.

This season Newey has once again gone all out with the innovations, even though they didn’t work when Mercedes ran them.

“How do you make the right choice? How do you make the wrong choice? Does Adrian Newey ever get it wrong?” Jacques said.

“If you remember the McLaren that he got horribly wrong. It was the MP4-18, which was revolutionary at the time, had things like a blown diffuser, which we’d seen many, many years later.

“He hasn’t always got it right, and McLaren had to revert to the old car back then.

“It would be fascinating wouldn’t it if Red Bull needed to pick a B-spec RB20.”

Palmer, though, was quick to point out Newey doesn’t often wrong.

“When we go back 21 years… that was a rare miss, wasn’t it? That was a rare miss in the Newey catalogue of hits.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

Helmut Marko admits big Red Bull questions after Mercedes’ past failure

Ranked: The top 10 most successful Adrian Newey Formula 1 car designs

Palmer allays fears: Red Bull have always had a strong chassis

Palmer went on to hail the aero strength of Newey’s Red Bull designs, accepting that when Red Bull were losing to Mercedes it was more the engine than the chassis.

“When you see this Red Bull that looks something different to the rest, when was the last time Red Bull had a miss?

“Because in the Mercedes-dominant years, Lewis won the titles and Nico Rosberg had one, it was Mercedes dominating.

“But Red Bull had the Renault engine at the time then they switched to Honda and it took a while to get to Mercedes’ level of performance but the chassis was always superb.

“The aerodynamics was superb and Ricciardo could win in Monaco, he won in 2014 on tracks like Hungary, where you need the aerodynamic performance, you need the chassis to be really good.

“On the long straights they were hopeless. At Monza they would always take a grid place penalty because they would just write it off as a weekend and that’s the power unit really.

“I can’t remember the last time Red Bull didn’t have a very strong chassis, aero package.”

Read next: Ted Kravitz raises yet more questions about Red Bull’s RB20 innovative solutions