Red Bull’s technical director Pierre Wache has a word of warning for any rivals seeking to copy aspects of the RB19 for the F1 2024 season.
As the RB19 proved the most dominant car of 2023 and, indeed, of F1’s entire history as it won all but one race to eclipse the win percentage of McLaren’s 1988 MP4/4, the Red Bull is likely to serve as the blueprint design for many other teams to try copying.
With stable rules for 2024, teams who are not confident in their own concepts could look towards the RB19 and copy as much as of the design as possible – but this won’t lead to easy success, claims Wache.
Pierre Wache: If you don’t know why, stay with what you understand
While it may be tempting for other teams to simply try copying Red Bull’s design by poring over photos and recreating as much as possible, Wache believes that without a proper understanding of the philosophy behind the design those teams would be on a hiding to nothing.
“I think it’s possible to copy, but in every business in the world, when it’s technical, the ‘how’ is one aspect,” he told Autosport.
“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.”
In an exclusive interview with PlanetF1.com, Red Bull boss Christian Horner said he suspects there will be many more cars bearing resemblance to the RB19 on the grid in 2024.
“Imitation is the biggest form of flattery,” he said.
“I think that’s the way Formula 1 operates. So I’m sure there’ll be several cars that look like RB19 next year.”
With Red Bull aiming to rectify some of the weaknesses of the RB19 with RB20, including addressing its lower-speed weakness exposed at street circuits, might the 2024 car end up being even more dominant?
“Dominance is very dependent also on the others, I would say,” Wache said.
“I don’t want to put pressure on the others… We did a good job, but we have plenty of room for improvement I would say.”