Red Bull ‘wrong RB20 upgrade’ paddock whispers addressed by Christian Horner

Michelle Foster
Christian Horner looks down in the pit wall.

Christian Horner on the Red Bull pit wall.

Christian Horner has rubbished James Allison’s claim Red Bull’s latest upgrade for the RB20 was a “downgrade”, the team boss adamant every new part that’s been put on the car this season has “earned their place”.

Although Red Bull dominated the early part of this year’s championship with four wins in five races, three of which were 1-2 results, McLaren upgraded their car in Miami and Ferrari followed suit in Imola while Red Bull, so says Mercedes technical director Allison, “downgraded” their RB20.

Christian Horner denies correlation and downgrade rumours

Since Miami, where McLaren kicked off the first round of big upgrades with every one of the team making changes to their cars in the following races, Red Bull are 1-2 in the win-loss stats.

Lando Norris won the Miami Grand Prix, Max Verstappen won in Imola but by less than a second, and then Charles Leclerc was P1 at the Monaco Grand Prix.

It had Allison telling the media in Montreal: “I guess as soon as there’s a decent range of cornering speeds, they’ll be useful again, but it does look as if their upgrade was a downgrade.

“So, fingers crossed that would really mess them up.”

Allison’s comment came on the back of Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko speaking about correlation issues as Red Bull struggles with the kerbs and the bumpy nature of the Monte Carlo street circuit.

Horner, though, has rubbished any talk of downgrades or correlation troubles.

“No, absolutely not,” he told Sky F1 in Montreal. “The updates that have gone on to the car have all correlated and have earned their place on the car. There are quite often rumours that percolate.

“There are a lot of cars that look like ours now, they’ve all converged. And I think that’s healthy competition.

“We’ve got to be at the top of our game, to keep ahead and so everybody in the team… what we achieved last year was unnatural, it was always going to converge, it was always going to become more competitive.

“And I think every member of our team is acutely aware of that and working very hard to try and make sure that we stay ahead of the rest.”

The 2024 numbers that matter without Red Bull

👉The F1 2024 Drivers’ Championship standings without Max Verstappen

👉Revealed: The F1 2024 Constructors’ Championship without Red Bull

Red Bull boss on ‘convergence’ and ‘issues’

But on a track where Mercedes topped final practice before grabbing pole position when George Russell set the exact same time as Verstappen but clocked his before the Dutchman, Horner says Mercedes are not Red Bull’s focus.

“They were quick,” he said. “They always look quick on green circuits and with a new surface here with it just being resurfaced, it is playing to their strengths.

“And I think we’re probably more focused on the Ferraris and McLarens than the Mercedes over the balance of a season. But let’s see how things pan out.”

Horner added: “We’re still learning about the car obviously. You can see that there’s been convergence, Ferrari and McLaren they’ve all made progress and Mercedes as well are looking quick here this weekend.

“We’ve got some issues that we know that we need to work on, that there are some tracks that have really suited us – what we do have are four wins so far this year – so there’s still plenty of work to do.”

Asked about the peakiness of the RB20, Horner replied: “I think that they’ve (the drivers) been struggling with kerb ride and striking that hard. I think we had that probably in last year’s car as well.

“I think it’s improved slightly with this year’s car, but all the cars are going quicker and so we’re pushing the aerodynamics harder and therefore the cars are running really stiff.

“And you can see how violent it is when they hit the kerbs and really attack the kerbs.

“It’s something that we’re working on. It’s something that there’s a lot of projects going on back in the factory back in the UK, but we know that there’s performance there that will be unlocked if we can get on top of that kerb riding.

“If you look at the circuits where we’ve been very strong this year, they’ve all been pretty smooth without big kerbs and I think Monaco was a bit of a wake-up call.”

Read next: Winners and losers from the Canadian Grand Prix qualifying