Toto Wolff identifies Red Bull’s strongest RB20 feature amongst Mercedes inspiration

Michelle Foster
Red Bull mechanic working on the RB20.

The Red Bull RB20 is estimated to have a 4 km/h straight-line speed advantage.

Adopting an aggressive sidepod design and gulleys along the engine cover, Red Bull’s RB20 may be inspired by yesteryear’s Mercedes but Toto Wolff says it’s the floor where Red Bull’s strength lies.

Despite winning last year’s championship with a commanding 21 wins from 22 Grands Prix, Red Bull opted not to build on the RB19 but have instead taken a different route with this year’s RB20.

Traversing a road that caused Mercedes to stumble, the RB20 not only features minimalist sidepods and vertical inlets reminiscent of Mercedes’ zeropod concept, but it also has high gulleys along the engine cover.

Red Bull have incorporated Mercedes’ zeropod and The Great Wall

Both those designs have been dropped by Mercedes after the team failed to fire in the ground-effect aerodynamic era, claiming a solitary win in 44 Grands Prix.

Wolff, though, concedes that having a fast car today is about more than engine covers and sidepods, it’s about the underneath of the car and that’s an area of strength for Red Bull.

“Well, there are a few things that they have adopted from our car,” he told ORF.

“Not just the zero sidepod, but of course we also had this bodywork engine cover, which we called ‘The Great Wall’, which they have adopted. It’s not marvellous aesthetically, but it makes sense.

“But the real performance takes place on the underfloor. These are ground-effect cars, where it’s also about the downforce and the mechanical handling characteristics.

“And that’s where they’ve been very strong in recent years, and there will probably have been a further development, but not such a radical change of concept as you can see at first glance with the bodywork.”

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The Mercedes team boss is convinced Red Bull would not have gone down the road that Mercedes had already walked unless they truly believed it was the right path.

“An extremely courageous step,” he added. “Because if they had proceeded conservatively, they would have developed a really good car further.

“But the data will always guide you in the development, and the data will probably have shown that what they are doing with the new car, these new developments, actually brings significantly more downforce or better handling characteristics. Because otherwise, Red Bull wouldn’t have done it.

“And they have always been innovative in recent years, they were the team that was the benchmark. And in that respect, I’m convinced that they knew what they were doing.”

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko spoke about the car’s Mercedes inspiration prior to pre-season testing where he told ServusTV that while Red Bull did get the “ideas” from Mercedes, their interpretation is “not as extreme” as what Mercedes ran in the past.

He added: “Adrian Newey always favoured cars without radiators. But of course, the engine people can’t do that. That is logical.”

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