Red Bull’s RB19 dominated 2023, but a rival team says it now understands what the Milton Keynes-based team had achieved with their design.
With 21 race wins from 22 races, the Red Bull RB19 became F1’s most dominant car ever by eclipsing the win percentage of the 1988 McLaren MP4/4, which won 15 of 16 races.
Heading into the third year of the current ground-effect regulations, convergence of designs is starting to occur – and Alpine say they have figured out what Red Bull was up to with the RB19 and why it was so strong.
Alpine: We’ll take inspiration, but go our own way
While many of the teams are likely to incorporate aspects, or swathes, of Red Bull’s RB19 design in their 2024 cars, Alpine’s technical director Matt Harman has said he isn’t looking to bring the Enstone-based team in that direction.
But Harman explained that careful analysis and examination of what they could figure out about RB19 has yielded good understanding of what the World Champions achieved with the machine, but simply copying the design wouldn’t work for them.
“We think we’ve understood it [RB19] quite well,” he told Motorsport.com.
“We think we understand what they’re doing. You can’t click your fingers and just imagine it overnight. We understand our direction. But I think we’ve also understood some of the other cars on the grid as well.
“There are some other great cars there as well that have got some really interesting developments. And it’s about trying to understand what you’re doing, what they’re doing. In the end, if we just follow those people, we will never be in front of them. I think it’s a real mantra for us that we need to be inspired by these people, but we need to follow our own way.”
With Alpine having held off on some 2023 developments, including a floor update, that they ultimately decided to hold off in order to incorporate into the 2024 design, Harman said the Alpine A523 served as a strong base platform to build off for this season.
“I think there’s some really nice things on our car,” he said.
“We’re trying to be humble about these things. We know we’re not quite where we want to be, and we’d like to talk about what we need to get better at, not what we think we’re good at.
“I’d rather just focus on what we need to do better to be honest, rather than show off about what we think we might have done well at!”
Red Bull’s Pierre Wache: Stay with what you can understand
Speaking in an interview with Autosport, Red Bull technical director Pierre Wache had addressed the possibility of other teams copying aspects of the design overseen by himself and Adrian Newey.
While copying is possible, he said teams that do so without fully understanding the logic behind every aspect wouldn’t reap the full benefits.
“I think it’s possible to copy, but in every business in the world, when it’s technical, the ‘how’ is one aspect,” he said.
“The most important aspect is ‘why’. If you don’t know ‘why’, you can copy whatever you want, but it’s better to stay with what you understand.”
While copied designs might lead to an immediate improvement, the chances of an idea translating over to every other car aren’t fully guaranteed – another factor to take into account for competitors looking to follow another team’s idea.
“We also copy some stuff,” he said. “We [might] copy the wrong thing, but you [also] inspire yourself based on what you see from others.
“It’s like a Darwin effect, this business. You see something from others, you add another idea to it and you develop and you grow your concept, your strengths, and your capacity.
“But every time it has to be on the understanding aspect. If you just copy for copying’s sake, it doesn’t work.
“You [need to] have the knowledge and also what you want to achieve. If you don’t have the same golden aim of characteristics, it doesn’t bring anything.”