Red Bull insider confirms real RB20 plan with upgrades already in pipeline

Michelle Foster
Red Bull RB20 seen from the front.

The Red Bull RB20 is under the microscope heading into the new season.

The Red Bull RB20 that competes in the Bahrain Grand Prix, even the car that’s on track on the final day of testing, will be a different car to the one unveiled by the team last week.

Red Bull was the last team to officially launch their 2024 season as the reigning World Champions took the covers off an RB20 that bore some resemblance to last year’s Mercedes.

In what has been billed as a big design shift away from last year’s title-winning RB19, this year the RB20’s sidepod inlet shape is similar to Mercedes’ early-2023 design.

David Coulthard confirms early RB20 is ‘a launch iteration’

The cooling inlets, which are reminiscent of vertical mailbox slots, have also been moved back and are a little lower on the car.

The engine cover is another area that is more 2023 Mercedes with its long cooling gulleys that run along the length of it.

However, given Mercedes have since scrapped those designs after failing to make the car work, the theory of a “dummy car” has been raised by Sky Sports analysts with former Aston Martin strategist Bernie Collins “highly suspicious” about whether the car displayed at Red Bull’s launch will be the car on the track in Bahrain.

Former Red Bull F1 driver David Coulthard, who was present at the team’s shakedown of the RB20 at the Silverstone, confirmed that what’s been seen so far from Red Bull is the “launch iteration” of the car.

Upgrades will be coming, some even as early as Wednesday’s first day of testing in Bahrain, but whether that means the end of the Mercedes parts, he didn’t say.

“Just that it functions as you would expect in those conditions – no surprises,” he told the official F1 website of the Red Bull shakedown.

“I think the technical team were happy with the numbers they were getting in terms of… the things you can get out of that, the cooling and load sensors.

“Even if you went out and thought the car was amazing in a shakedown, the only thing that matters is Saturday qualifying and ultimately Sunday race [at the first round] in Bahrain.

“It’s a launch iteration… there will be upgrades coming to the test up until the last day and there might even be an upgrade that comes for the Friday of the Bahrain race, and all of these upgrades are expected to change performance, balance and lap time.” recommends

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Coulthard names ‘real contender’ to take on Red Bull

Last season Red Bull dominated the championship as Max Verstappen claimed 19 wins in 22 races, the team bagging 21 in total on their way to the championship double.

This year Coulthard reckons it will be closer with Ferrari, the only team to win a race aside from Red Bull in 2023, in the mix along with Mercedes and McLaren.

“I don’t have a crystal ball,” said the Scot, “but you’ve got to believe Ferrari had a strong car last year in terms of single-lap pace.

“If they’ve managed to improve on whatever it was that was making their race pace difficult then they are a real contender.

“Mercedes were making big strides at the end of the year… McLaren, again, back of the grid in Bahrain, pretty much at the front of the grid in Abu Dhabi, so huge growth during the course of the year.”

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