Surprise Red Bull weakness identified with team ‘lacking information’ to optimise RB20

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull's Sergio Perez during the Australian Grand Prix

Red Bull's Sergio Perez

Considering Max Verstappen has a 100 per cent pole position record in F1 2024, qualifying would not appear to be a weakness of the Red Bull RB20, but technical director Pierre Wache claims it is.

After their record-breaking dominance in 2023, Red Bull has once more hit the ground running in F1 2024, the team and their three-time World Champion Verstappen atop the Constructors’ and Drivers’ standings respectfully after three rounds.

Red Bull ‘lacking information’ to optimise RB20 in qualifying

Verstappen has been on pole for all three of those races so far, turning two into victories, though Wache says Red Bull are struggling to understand how to best balance qualifying versus race setup, which means despite Verstappen’s heroics, they do not have the best car on the grid over one lap.

“When we make changes to make the tyres work better, you know that you also have to give up something in the car,” Wache told RacingNews365.com. “It always comes at the expense of something when you try to save the tyres.

“You can see that in qualifying, for example, where we are not the best team. Sometimes we pay the price for that by not understanding something, I’m sure, because then we have to choose to set up more for race pace, but by doing so we sacrifice qualifying a bit.

“So if we understood that aspect of the car better, we could be good in both qualifying and the race. However, we still lack some information to make that happen.”

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The current generation of F1 cars, utilising a ground effect philosophy for downforce, appear to carry the caveat of being more difficult when it comes to nailing setup, with Red Bull’s rivals Mercedes often talking about their machinery being on a ‘knife edge’ during their struggles to return to challenging Red Bull.

However, Wache says that the tyres also contribute significantly to this difficulty, as well as the characteristics when running with high-fuel versus low-fuel, making finding the “ideal” setup to work across qualifying and race trim “very difficult”.

“It is not only because of the current cars that it is more difficult to find a good setting and balance between the setups for qualifying and the race,” Wache claimed. “The tyres also play a role. For example, the rear tyres have gotten a lot wider.

“Added to that is the ‘ground effect’ of the current generation of cars. It is therefore more difficult to drive both with little and much fuel because the car comes to the ground very differently in both cases. That difference is noticeable for the driver, but also in terms of tyre wear that differs tremendously in both situations.

“It is therefore very difficult to find the perfect balance in an optimal setting for qualifying and the race. The combination of these factors, in my opinion, makes it very difficult to find an ideal setup for the current generation of cars.”

Red Bull will look to return to winning ways at the upcoming Japanese Grand Prix after their Melbourne setback, as Verstappen looks to make it a hat-trick of victories at Suzuka.

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