RB boss sends clear message to rivals over Red Bull RB19 copycat talk

Michelle Foster
Daniel Ricciardo in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo puts in the laps in the RB01.

Laurent Mekies has told rivals that RB’s F1 car is no more a copy of the 2023 title-winning Red Bull than their cars, after all, everyone “tried to find inspiration looking at the RB19”.

RB and Red Bull’s rivals have been up in arms ever since Helmut Marko revealed last year there would be closer collaboration between Red Bull’s two Formula 1 teams as “do-it-yourself constructions are the wrong way”.

‘Visually ours is among those which look the least like the RB19’

This had McLaren chief Zak Brown calling for “sporting fairness”, telling Sky Sports: “We still have some work to do around regulations for the future, to kind of make sure this A/B team and co-ownerships doesn’t kind of take away from the sporting fairness now that we have this cost cap.”

But while the VCARB 01 does have some resemblance to the RB19, most notably with the sidepods, Mekies points out that several cars on this year’s grid also take inspiration from the Red Bull.

In fact, he reckons the VCARB 01 is the car that “least” looks like last year’s Red Bull.

“Our car is not the Red Bull of last year, it simply isn’t, and if anyone feels like analysing it technically, they will see it,” he told Motorsport Italy.

“All our rivals, without exception, tried to find inspiration looking at the RB19, so did we, but we know from Formula 1 history that copying is not something unusual.

“We see it even today in the paddock, no two cars are identical or even close to being identical, and I would add that after seeing all the cars in the pitlane I can say that visually ours is among those which look the least like the RB19.

“Nobody from Red Bull is interested in playing around in grey areas of the rules, and fortunately for us the rules are very clear. We share some components that the rules allow, as does half the pitlane.”

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‘We have not seen a Williams on pole or a Haas on the podium’

Mekies also rubbished the idea that sharing parts automatically comes with improved performance, citing Williams’ relationship with Mercedes and Haas’ with Ferrari as proof of this.

Instead, he reckons it allows smaller teams with less budget more of an opportunity.

“We have not seen a Williams on pole or a Haas on the podium, and this is because the shareable components did not include parts that were particularly significant in terms of performance, instead focusing on parts with a high development/cost ratio,” he insisted.

“These regulations also aimed to favour a new business model, to offer the possibility for a Formula 1 team to compete on the track without obliging it to make very significant investments in certain components, such as transmissions.

“I would like to point out that even at such a favourable time for F1 on the financial front, our owners continue to allocate budget every year, and I think this is the case for a large part of the grid.”

He added: “I don’t think there is any basis for deciding to change this part of the regulations, ultimately just to please one team. The danger is that we will make a wrong choice for our sport as a whole.”

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