Adrian Newey Reveals RB20 Design Philosophy

Following another dominant performance by Red Bull at Suzuka, Adrian Newey discussed the impact of their comprehensive upgrade, which accompanied yet another 1-2 finish.

The Milton Keynes-based squad secured their third 1-2 finish of the 2024 season in Japan, rebounding impressively from a lackluster outing in Australia. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez delivered a flawless performance, maximizing the points for their team.

Speculation had been rampant leading up to the race weekend, with rumors suggesting that Red Bull would introduce a radical ‘zero-pod’ concept to the RB20, akin to what Mercedes had contemplated at the onset of the ground-effect era.

While an upgrade for their sidepods did materialize, it was not as groundbreaking as initially speculated. Instead, a new sidepod inlet was implemented for the primary heat exchangers, reducing the required exit area further downstream.

Additionally, modifications to camber and surface were made to the floor body and edge, alongside the introduction of smaller inlet and exit ducts for the brakes.

With Red Bull securing another 1-2 finish, the question arose: were these upgrades necessary for their victory, or could Ferrari have posed a threat had the RB20 remained unchanged?

When questioned about this by Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz as he watched the drivers celebrate on the podium, the team’s chief technical officer, Adrian Newey, responded with a knowing smile.

“Well, we know our performance, theoretically,” he remarked, teasingly declining to divulge further details when pressed by Kravitz. “I’m not telling you that bit!” he quipped.

Regarding the upgrade package, Newey commented, “As far as we can see from the pressure sensors and the load cells, it delivered what it said on the tin from the wind tunnel. It was a small step forward.”

However, Newey suggested that Red Bull likely could have secured the victory even without the upgrades, given the inherent performance of the RB20 in the early stages of the championship.

“I think this weekend would have probably been okay anyway,” he stated. But we all know it’s going to tighten up so we just keep pushing.”

Newey and chief engineer Paul Monaghan have downplayed the magnitude of the alterations made to the RB20 in comparison to its RB19 predecessor, renowned as one of the most dominant cars in F1’s history.

However, as performance improvements persist and there are no indications that Red Bull has reached the theoretical limit of the current regulations, Newey emphasized that this progress is a testament to the diligent efforts undertaken at their headquarters in Milton Keynes.

“It’s a credit to all the guys back at the factory obviously. We have a tremendous team of engineers,” he stated. That spreads through to the whole organisation and their enthusiasm, drive, and creativity are what you see here before you.”

Newey elucidated that the strategy has been one of continuous evolution, tracing back to the debut of the RB18 at the onset of the ground-effect era.

“Really the car, the architecture of the car has stayed very similar, it’s the third generation since 2022,” he stated.

“The aero principles that you now see on this year’s car compared to last year’s, it’s a route that we were taking really since early 2022, and it’s just a more extreme version or route down that same path.”

When questioned about whether this entails a focus on under-the-skin components and designs that aren’t externally visible, Newey affirmed that it does, as well as encompassing visible aspects.

“Exactly. Well, the whole whole principle including the top body, which is kind of extending a principle that we really started to push quite hard last year.”