Have Red Bull’s rivals understood the RB cars with ‘bigger’ gap touted?

Michelle Foster
Mercedes W15 front wing with legality wire

Mercedes have put an innovative front wing solution on the W15.

As rivals put innovations on this year’s cars, Pierre Wache believes that’s a sign they understand Red Bull’s development, even if they’ve taken different paths to achieve it.

Having dominated in Formula 1’s ground-effect aerodynamic era, winning 38 of 44 Grands Prix, rival teams have over the last two years taken design cues from Red Bull’s championship-winning cars.

Some have gone their own route, not looking to copy Red Bull’s concept but rather using their own and mimicking the effects of the Red Bull parts.

‘They understood from what I saw in the development of their cars’

This, Red Bull’s technical director Wache’s feels, is notable with Mercedes’ new front wing.

Mercedes have designed an ingenious and innovative front wing solution that while some may argue is against the spirit of the regulations, it is within the letter of the law.

The team have used a legality wire on the fourth or last flap of the front wing to connect it to the nose of the W15.

It has Wache believing rivals, notably Mercedes, understand the aim of Red Bull’s design and have adapted their own concepts to achieve those goals.

“I don’t know if they understood what we did, but I think they understood from what I saw in the development of their cars,” he told Motorsport.com.

“Even if it’s not exactly the same path, because I’m sure we are not right everywhere, they have found their own path in the sense that you develop a tool, or certain paths of development, based on the issues you have and based on your understanding.

“So maybe they have found some other stuff that could be very interesting. To make it be able to work with three and half flaps on the element on the front wing [like Mercedes] is interesting by having more outwash.

“They have found a different path. I’m not sure they know exactly what we did, because if you just copy without understanding, for me it’s useless, but all the competitive people in this business are following a path for their benefit.”

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Wache: I hope the gap will be bigger

Red Bull, who have innovations of their own with their aggressive RB20, go into the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix as the favourites to claim the win.

Although Helmut Marko tried to downplay their advantage during pre-season testing, rivals believe it may actually be bigger than last season.

Wache hopes they’re right.

“I hope the gap will be bigger, but I don’t know,” he said. “I hope first we will deliver a car that will be able to perform well, and we’ll see where everybody is.

“But to be honest when I see Ferrari [long run pace], they were very quick. So I don’t know, to be honest.

“The main worry we have is this track is very specific. How will we translate to other types of tracks with different issues?

“Here [Bahrain] it’s very rear limited. The surface is very specific. I think we will have a different challenge, and I’m not sure it will be easy.”

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