Ted Kravitz explains why RB20 is not ‘unsuccessful’ Mercedes zeropod concept 2.0

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez heads out in the RB20.

Sergio Perez in action in the Red Bull RB20.

Introducing Mercedes-styled sidepods and vertical inlets, the RB20 may have “borrowed some design ideas” from Mercedes, but Ted Kravitz is adamant it’s not a copy of the “not-so-successful” Mercedes zeropod.

After last year’s epic success with 21 wins from 22 races, Red Bull opted against tweaking the RB19 and instead put a radically different RB20 on the track with its revamped sidepod interpretation.

While rivals adopted the Red Bull downwash approach, the Milton Keynes squad’s new car leans towards Mercedes’ former zeropod concept and features vertical sidepods inlets.

The RB20 is ‘not’ the ‘not-so-successful Mercedes sidepod concept’

The shrinking bodywork and revised packaging have been the talk of the town with many wondering if Red Bull have made the right call given Mercedes’ past troubles that ultimately led to them dropping the zeropod question.

That question of have Red Bull seemingly made the zeropod design work when “Mercedes couldn’t” was posed to Ted Kravitz, ironically by a ‘George’.

Kravitz, though, says that while the RB20 does adopt “design ideas” from Mercedes, it’s not the Mercedes concept.

“I know it might look like the not-so-successful Mercedes sidepod concept but actually it isn’t,” he explained to Sky Sports.

“It’s still of the Red Bull 2023 family, it’s just that they’ve chosen to reposition a lot of the internals to achieve some aerodynamic gains, and they borrowed some design ideas from that Mercedes to make that happen.”

Mercedes have questions about the Red Bull design

Drawing on Mercedes technical director James Allison’s comment that he would “deeply love” to delve around Red Bull’s cooling system and their “‘snorkelly’ things”, the pit lane reporter says that shows Red Bull have not copied Mercedes verbatim.

“So I think the reason that Mercedes technical director James Allison was as puzzled by what Red Bull are doing under those cucumber channels as the rest of us, was that he could see that they’re not doing what Mercedes were doing under there,” he continued.

“Don’t get me wrong, had we seen an RB20 with no sidepods, a different floor shape, then this would be a very valid question.

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“But as Toto Wolff said on Day One, ‘we tried absolutely everything trying to make that design of the car work and if they can do it out of the box on Day One with a new car, what we tried a year and a half to make work, well good luck to them.’

“And I thought what was most the most telling was that line from Allison gave us something to chase up, which I will in the season.

“He said if you look at that area under those kinds of cannons or cucumber channels, whatever you want to call them, that the airbox, there’s quite a lot going on under there and it’s got to be big and bulky for some reason, and we haven’t figured out what that reason is.

“Is it an intercooler where an intercooler isn’t normally? Is a heat exchanger in the middle of the car? Is it something big that they’ve had to reposition for aerodynamic gain? We’ll get to the bottom of it eventually, but it’s not actually a Mercedes copy.”

Ted Kravitz identities the F1 2024 team which has made ‘biggest jump’ of all

Pre-season testing saw Red Bull emerge as the team to beat with Ferrari and Mercedes seemingly next in line, however, it’s Red Bull’s junior team, VCARB or RB or Red Bull junior, that impressed Kravitz.

“They seem to have made the biggest jump from year to year,” he said.

“And it’s not impossible if we see some of the big guys go out in one of the first few races, to see an RB – and it could be either Ricciardo or Tsunoda – on the podium.

“They are the big movers of the winter.”

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