Red Bull are toeing a line between making concept changes to their F1 car, which would be “stupid”, and not doing anything at all, which would be “wrong”, says Paul Monaghan.
The authoritative figure in the ground-effect aerodynamic era, the Adrian Newey-designed Red Bull F1 cars have won 38 of 44 Grands Prix since the beginning of 2022.
That’s handed the team back-to-back championship doubles while Red Bull also recorded their first-ever one-two in the Drivers’ Championship as Max Verstappen led home Sergio Perez in the 2023 standings.
Balance between ‘wrong’ and ‘stupid’
With 21 wins in 22 races this past season and Verstappen winning the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by a massive 17 seconds, it could be argued Red Bull could put this year’s RB19 on next year’s grid and still win races, if not the title.
But with team boss Christian Horner letting his rivals know they are improving “all aspects” of the car ahead of next year’s championship, chief engineer Monaghan admits the changes could be minor.
After all it would be “stupid” to throw away what is clearly a race-winning concept. But at the same time, it would be “wrong” to do nothing at all.
“It would be wrong to just leave things as they are, because our adversaries are getting closer and closer,” he said as per Motorsport.com.
“But the rules are quite strict compared to what we experienced in previous years and with previous generations of cars, where we could do a little bit more and shake things up.
“It might not surprise you if I said that [the RB20] will be an evolution of the current car, because it would be a bit stupid to throw this concept into oblivion.
“But we also have to progress. We have to find time. The competition is on our backs and if they reach a milestone, we’d better reach an even bigger one.
“But it [the RB20] takes a lot of the lessons and benefits of the current car, and starting in Bahrain next year we will see if we have done a good job.”
The RB20 has been designed under Red Bull’s budget cap constraints, the penalty meaning the already-hit championship winners had only 63 percent of the allotted windtunnel time compared to midfield finishers Aston Martin in P7, with the bottom finishers allowed even more time beyond that.
“This has forced us to re-examine how effectively we perform testing in the wind tunnel environment and within CFD,” said Monaghan.
Horner reckons Red Bull won’t know the full impact of the penalty until the RB20 hits the track in testing.
“Certainly, you’ve not seen the full impact yet because it obviously has compromised the amount of development that we’ve been able to do this year,” he explained.
“Thankfully, we came out with a very strong car at the beginning of the year and we’ve been able to apply most of that development time, from quite early in the season, to next year’s car. So, that’s been important.
“With the wind tunnel restrictions that we’ve had, we’ve elected to use that on RB20, next year’s car, as opposed to continuing development on RB19.”