Red Bull make major ‘last roll of the dice’ declaration on almighty RB20

Thomas Maher
Max Verstappen on track at the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Red Bull's Paul Monaghan has described his team's thought process behind the RB20 design.

Red Bull’s chief engineer Paul Monaghan has explained the logic behind the team’s decision to show up with quite a different RB20 despite the dominance of the RB19 last year.

Red Bull’s RB20 marked quite a departure in direction from the RB19, with the Milton Keynes-based squad opting against a conservative evolution and instead opting for a different design direction for the new car.

Paul Monaghan: RB20 changes are Red Bull’s last roll of the dice

With the RB20 proving dominant at the first two races of 2024, claiming 1-2 finishes in both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the new car has proven that, once again, the Constructors’ Champions appear to have come up with the goods with their latest machine.

But such a step wasn’t guaranteed, given the change of direction Red Bull made with their RB20 concept, which opted against continuing the evolution of the 2023 car that itself was an evolution of the ’22.

Speaking to media, including, Paul Monaghan spoke about the step taken by Red Bull with the RB20 as he weighed up the magnitude of the step made compared to the step made for ’23.

“They’re actually quite similar [in magnitude] but think of it as a currency of lap time, not just an outright downforce figure,” Monaghan said.

“We can probably put more downforce into this car if we wanted to, it’s just whether it behaves itself on track.

“So your aim is to give yourself a platform on which you can work towards lap time, not necessarily headline downforce figure.

“In terms of the magnitude of the step, it doesn’t actually matter, does it? It’s just where we stand relative to our opposition and the lap time as currency.”

But why did Red Bull opt to turn their back on the RB19 concept to chase a new direction?

“Complacency would be the wrong thing for us to do,” he said.

“We have tried to make a decent step with this car, which is comparable to 2022 into ’23.

“The magnitude of evolution, if you’re judging visually, isn’t necessarily indicative of what we’ve achieved in terms of lap time.

“You’ve got to make it safe. It’s no good having it peaky and behaving itself in one aspect of the track and not in others.

“So, to my mind, we had a pretty good car last year. And to drift a long way from that for greater risk seems an unwise choice. An evolution of what we had last year, if we can put enough in it to keep ourselves focused on our opposition, is the right thing to do.”

But Monaghan downplayed the revolutionary aspect of the RB20, saying the car doesn’t differentiate quite as much as theorised.

“Conceptually, no. Visually, again, don’t judge it by the scale of the change you might see,” he said.

“It’s the scale of change you’ll never see which is actually the judgment of how our lap time evolves. The car you see now won’t be the car that we have in six months or in the latter third of the season.” recommends

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Paul Monaghan: The changes open up more options for Red Bull

With F1 moving into the third year of the current technical regulations, and the ground-effect regulations maturing, Monaghan explained the change of direction allowed Red Bull to set off in a design direction that potentially has a higher ceiling of performance than had they stuck with an RB19 evolution.

“If we choose to make some bigger changes on the car, it opens up more options for us,” he said. “That’s part of the reason to say ‘let’s go ahead and change it more fully’.

“It’s probably the last big roll of the dice because, into 2025, you have to be looking at 2026.

“You see quite early on in terms of aerodynamic research if we are bumping into some limits.

“At that point, you have to say, ‘Okay, can we look at it differently and what do we need to change?’

“Do we need to change something again for next year, which would free up an unlocked ergometry that shows some promise, but we can’t get on to this year’s car? You’ll start to see that probably now.

“It’s just whether you say a bigger change for next year is viable, realistic, financially achievable and do we have the resources to do it? That we’ll find out.”

Having set off on their new design path, Monaghan said he suspects there is plenty of potential to find more performance as the year goes on.

“At the moment, gains are still there,” he said. “Magnitude-wise, at the moment, we can find similar [gains] to last year. I suspect, towards the end of the year, it may well diminish a bit, but we’ve got some brilliantly creative people.

“If they find it, then we’ll take it. It’s as simple as that.”

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