Mercedes would ‘deeply love’ to solve mystery of new Red Bull RB20 feature

Henry Valantine
Mercedes and Red Bull side-by-side.

Mercedes are looking to close a gap to Red Bull in the 2024 season.

Mercedes technical director James Allison admitted he would “deeply love” to get to the bottom of Red Bull’s new cooling system on the RB20, which the team “haven’t figured out yet.”

Red Bull surprised the Formula 1 paddock by taking a different design approach this season following the runaway success of the RB19, taking 21 of 22 race victories last year.

One of those areas is around the RB20’s cooling system, with rivals longing to take a closer look at how their latest design will work in practice.

Mercedes boss: Red Bull are ‘doing that for a reason’ on new cooling system

Mercedes raised eyebrows themselves with the design they have brought to the front wing of the W15, receiving plaudits for the use of a ‘legality wire’ to ensure their new wing complies with FIA regulations while innovating elsewhere.

But on the Red Bull, Allison observed that the way the team are set to cool the RB20 does not look “light and svelte”, and he would particularly like to figure out the reasons why.

With the Formula 1 paddock being a hot-bed of research, teams often figure out their rivals’ innovations in time, but the period of new cars being released brings about uncertainty while new designs are pored over.

“Well, I would deeply love to be invited into the Red Bull garage and to take the engine cover off and delve around under those sort of ‘snorkelly’ things,” Allison told Sky Sports F1’s Ted Kravitz when asked if any features from the paddock have surprised him this season.

“There’s definitely a different approach being taken there because what glimpses you see of their cooling system, it’s definitely not light and svelte.

“So they’re doing that for a reason, and I’d love to know what that reason is, but we haven’t figured it out yet.”

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Mercedes have sounded positive about their own prospects following testing, with both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell expressing their belief that the W15 is a step forward compared to where they were with their 2023 challenger.

But with every other team having improved compared to last season, as well as Red Bull taking a different tack with their design on the RB20, Allison believes it’s the reigning World Champions who go into the season as favourites to retain their titles.

“I don’t think it’s any surprise to anyone that down there [Red Bull] have got their noses and perhaps a bit more of their face in front of those of us that are chasing,” he said.

“But I think we’ll make a good fist of the chasing, and hopefully [we’ll] just develop strongly through the year.”

The 2024 season will get underway in Bahrain next weekend, with free practice taking place on Thursday, qualifying on Friday and the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday 2 March.

Read next: Conclusions from F1 2024 Testing: Red Bull’s RB20 checkmate, drain cover dramas and more