Red Bull v Ferrari: The tug of war happening behind the scenes

Jamie Woodhouse
Sergio Perez leads a Red Bull and Ferrari battle. Azerbaijan, April 2023.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, leads Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, and Max Verstappen in a sprint race. Azerbaijan, April 2023.

Laurent Mekies, and one of the key technicians behind Red Bull’s mighty DRS, reportedly play major roles in quite the behind-the-scenes battle going on between Ferrari and Red Bull.

Red Bull right now are setting the standard for the other Formula 1 teams to follow, the reigning Constructors’ champs having started F1 2023 with three one-two finishes out of four grands prix.

Already Red Bull are leading the way with a buffer of 93 points over their closest challenger, that being Aston Martin, with Ferrari a further 25 points adrift.

This then of course falls far short of the Scuderia’s lofty ambitions to taste title glory for themselves once more, but as Ferrari set about breaking down the Red Bull walls on-track, it is what is reportedly happening behind closed doors which will lay the key foundations in this quest.

The Italian branch of are reporting that Ferrari are to poach two ‘senior’ figures from the Red Bull team, one of those having played a pivotal role in assembling what right now is proving to be a vital weapon for the Austrian outfit.

Currently rival teams seemingly have no answer to the efficiency of the DRS flap on the RB19, the speed at which Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have shot past cars with it open at times this season making them look like they are in a different formula.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was the most recent victim in Azerbaijan, as while he claimed pole for the sprint and Grand Prix, alas that Red Bull DRS left him simply seeing little value in attempting to defend the lead.

But, could Ferrari now have the answer to that critical Red Bull advantage? Rumour has it according to that a key player in creating this magic DRS is already now at work for Ferrari in Maranello. While data transfers are forbidden between teams, it is not possible to erase what a person stores in their head after all.

And so, Ferrari are confident that this key acquisition will allow them to become a match for Red Bull when it comes to straight-line speed, allowing focus to then switch to making the SF-23 challenger more friendly on its tyres so that their race pace can move closer to the level which their rivals can achieve.

As for the second major Red Bull figure who Ferrari apparently have their eyes on, well this is where the status of Ferrari’s outgoing race director Laurent Mekies is allegedly going to come into play.

With AlphaTauri having confirmed the impending departure of their team boss Franz Tost, Mekies has been named as his successor, AlphaTauri of course the sister team of Red Bull.

So, claim that Ferrari boss Vasseur will look to use Mekies’ gardening leave period as a bargaining chip with Red Bull, in exchange for a swifter arrival of the individual they apparently want: Red Bull’s head of aerodynamics, Enrico Balbo.

Red Bull only recently lost their previous aero chief Dan Fallows to Aston Martin, and with Fallows having commenced work there in April of 2022, already Aston Martin has gone from a midfield outfit to ‘best of the rest’ early in F1 2023. A warning sign for Red Bull, yet a clear pull factor for Ferrari to follow that Aston Martin route. state that when Mekies does ultimately move to AlphaTauri, the signs are pointing towards Ferrari’s senior performance engineer Jock Clear and their chief engineer, vehicle operations Diego Ioverno taking on those duties between them. recommends

Christian Horner part of process in poaching Laurent Mekies from Ferrari

Max Verstappen told to ‘take a leaf out of Lewis Hamilton’s book’ in one key area

To beat Red Bull, one must copy and steal

When the new Technical Regulations were introduced for F1 2022, it was a very pleasant surprise to see Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari all go in very different directions with their designs, considering the fear that the restrictive rules would lead to limited differences between concepts.

However, with Red Bull having established themselves as the team which has clearly got it right, we now know that Mercedes are changing course, and it has been reported that Ferrari will do too for their future challenger, so we may well get that convergence in designs after all.

Ultimately, Aston Martin’s decision to switch to a design resembling Red Bull’s double title-winning RB18, and instant surge up the pecking order, has made it something of a no-brainer really.

And considering that Aston Martin embarked on this new path with Fallows installed as technical director, it comes as no surprise to hear that Ferrari now apparently have similar plans to hack away at the Red Bull foundations until the empire falls.