James Allison reveals observations after seeing real Red Bull RB20 design emerge

Thomas Maher
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Sergio Perez on track in Bahrain.

Mercedes' James Allison has expressed admiration for Red Bull's bravery with their RB20 design.

Mercedes’ James Allison couldn’t help but doff his cap at Red Bull’s willingness to take risks with their RB20 design.

Red Bull have shown up with a very different RB20 design for the 2024 season, having moved away from a straightforward evolution of their dominant RB19 – an unexpected move, given the extent of their crushing of the opposition in 2023.

Mercedes, too, has opted for revolution with their new W15, and technical director James Allison has shared his thoughts upon seeing their rivals show up with such a radical approach.

James Allison: Bravo to Red Bull

No stranger to designing cars to follow up on dominant campaigns, Red Bull’s decision to take a risk and move to a new design path with the RB20 was one that caught Allison’s eye after it hit the track in Bahrain.

Speaking to media, including PlanetF1.com, ahead of the Bahrain GP weekend, Allison was asked for his thoughts on Red Bull’s new design – and the British engineer admitted it is a brave move from the reigning World Champions.

“Mostly, I thought that, when a team is out in front as they have been, it’s quite easy to rest on your laurels,” he said.

“I thought ‘bravo to them’ for being willing to do something that is not just a straightforward iteration of the previous season.

With Red Bull having taken some design cues from Mercedes’ now abandoned ‘zeropod’ concept, does Allison believe Red Bull’s change of direction vindicates some of Mercedes’ previous design decisions?

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“No, I don’t think so,” he said.

“I mean, I think that you could go up and down this pit lane and take the engine cover shape of every car on the grid and put it on every other car on the grid, and it wouldn’t make a hill of beans difference.

“What will be interesting is what they’ve done underneath that engine cover. So what they’re using that volume for, but the external shape is neither here nor there.

“We changed last year from the layout of the side pods…

“The bits that you see are the bits I guess that we end up talking about. We changed away last year, mostly so we didn’t have to die wondering whether or not that was something that was hurting us – ultimately, it didn’t make a huge amount of difference.”

As for the W15, which is the first car Allison has had a full hand in since 2021’s W12 after handing over the technical director role to the now-departed Mike Elliott for 2022 and ’23, Allison said the changes introduced during last year with the W14 have just been logically evolved from that starting point.

“We just iterated forward from there,” he said.

“And wound up with a car that, predictably enough, has more downforce than the previous year, having put an awful lot of effort into achieving just that.”

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