Adrian Newey’s ‘seven race’ RB20 promise set to come true at Imola

Michelle Foster
Lando Norris Max Verstappen

Red Bull will bring upgrades to Imola

Although McLaren won in Miami, Damon Hill says Red Bull’s pace hasn’t disappeared and the RB20 could be even quicker in Imola with Tom Clarkson revealing a “very different” RB20 will debut.

Last time in Miami Red Bull suffered their second defeat of the season, this one could perhaps even be billed as their first as, unlike in Australia when Max Verstappen retired, Lando Norris beat the reigning World Champion in a fight to the line after a Safety Car restart.

‘The sheer pace of the Red Bull is still there…’

Racing the upgraded MCL38, for the second year running McLaren nailed their updates with the Briton racing from fifth to first to take the chequered flag by seven seconds ahead of Verstappen.

Hill though concedes there were other factors in play such as tyre wear in traffic and the Safety Car. As such he does not believe for a second that Red Bull have lost pace.

“It’s great that they [McLaren] have made progress and the pace was there in Miami,” he said on the F1 Nation podcast.

“The race pace was there but now we have a slight caveat, which is that certainly it seems this season if you’re in traffic, if you have any kind of disturbance on your car, your tyres seem to suffer so being out front is a big bonus.”

Declaring the Safety Car was also a “factor” in Miami, Hill added: “So the sheer pace of the Red Bull is still there, and I don’t expect that to disappear overnight. There’s probably more work to do.

“I mean, let’s be honest, if they made progress enough to be as quick as the Red Bull then that’s terrific but they still have to beat Max Verstappen.”

The 2024 F1 championship in numbers

👉The updated Drivers’ and Constructors’ standings after the Miami Grand Prix

👉F1 2024: Head-to-head race statistics between team-mates

Imola tipped to ‘shape the rest of the 2024 season’

And in Imola, McLaren will have the added challenge of taking on Red Bull’s first round of upgrades.

While McLaren brought a big upgrade to the track in Miami, Red Bull will fire their first shots in the development war at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Ferrari too are updating their SF-24.

“The threat of Red Bull is ever-present,” said Tom Clarkson. “I remember Adrian Newey saying at the first race in Bahrain that the Red Bull is going to look very different at race seven. Well, we’re coming to race seven now. So they are bringing new parts to the Red Bull.

“What are they going to do? Well, we have to wait until first practice on Friday to find out.

“I actually feel that this weekend is going to shape the rest of the 2024 season because Red Bull are bringing new bits, Ferrari are bringing new bits which they’ve already tested at Fiorano last week, McLaren of course have got the new bits and Oscar Piastri in the second McLaren is gonna have the full upgrades on his car.

“So how it plays out this weekend is going to give us a lot of clues as to how the rest of the season is going to play.”

Hill responded: “It is going to be fascinating to see how it plays out. Imola has got very high-speed corners but not a lot of big radius corners and there’s precious little in the way of very slow corners so slippery cars will be better there and cars with good change of direction.

“It doesn’t necessarily, I don’t think, need maximum downforce. You’ve got a relatively high average speed.

“I think Red Bull are going to be quick there but if they are bringing upgrades all I can say is I don’t know what those upgrades are going to do, none of us do at the moment, except you can pretty much assume it’s going to be better.”

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