Huge Red Bull RB20 change mooted as Mercedes ‘zeropod’ design in the works – report

Jamie Woodhouse
The Red Bull RB20 on show on launch day.

The Red Bull RB20.

Mercedes could not find success with zeropods, but could Red Bull unlocks the secrets? It looks like we are about to find out.

Formula 1’s new regulatory era in 2022 started with a range of different takes on the ground effect regulations, with the leading teams of the previous season, Red Bull and Mercedes, going down very distinct paths with the designs of their respective challengers.

But, by the start of 2023, Mercedes decided that their unique take on sidepod design, dubbed ‘zeropods’, had been the wrong approach as Red Bull firmly cemented themselves as Formula 1’s dominant force. However, while Mercedes saw no hope in that concept, it seems Red Bull do.

Red Bull to reportedly unleash zeropods in Japan

Red Bull were the final team to unveil their challenger for F1 2024, the RB20, which it was quickly pointed out was rather Mercedes 2023-esque in its design, as the RB20’s sidepods featured the vertical inlet used by Mercedes on last season’s W14, while the engine cover includes long cooling gulleys that run from the Halo along the length of the cover. though are reporting that the sidepods on the RB20 are set to become even further Mercedes-inspired as of the Japanese Grand Prix, Round 4 of the F1 2024 campaign, as Red Bull’s take on the zeropods will feature in their first major upgrade package of the season.

The publication reports that once the hot conditions of Bahrain pre-season testing and the season-opener in the nation, followed by Saudi Arabia and Australia, make way for cooler conditions in Japan, Red Bull will introduce an evolution of the zeropod concept for their RB20. recommends

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At the launch of the Red Bull RB20, Horner was quizzed by media, including’s Thomas Maher, on this apparent drawing of inspiration from Mercedes design elements for their latest creation.

He insisted that it is “not tactical”, but rather “performance” related.

“It’s not tactical. It’s based on performance and what we’re seeing through our simulation tools,” said Horner.

“Obviously, the car looks quite visibly different in certain areas to last year.

“Only the stopwatch will tell but in the virtual world we wouldn’t have committed it to design if we didn’t feel it was better.”

And after Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez put the RB20 through its early paces in a Silverstone shakedown run, Red Bull’s design guru Adrian Newey confirmed that it “behaved as we expected it to”.

“We know roughly what we’ve done from the shakedown at Silverstone, it seems to have – from what we can tell – behaved as we expected it to,” he said.

“But that’s no guarantee of anything. It could be that some other team has done a bigger jump than us, we shall have to see.”

Red Bull head into F1 2024 chasing a third Constructors’ title on the trot, while Verstappen is looking to extend his streak of Drivers’ Championship wins to four.

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