Full Transcript: Scarborough Questions Authenticity of Red Bull RB20 Renders in Technical Analysis

In a recent appearance on Peter Windsor’s YouTube channel, Formula 1 technical analyst Craig Scarborough provided an in-depth analysis of Red Bull Racing‘s latest challenger, the RB20.

Red Bull known for their livery launch antics presented their RB20 with a mixture of shadowy renders and a dimly lit stage show, leaving much to the imagination.

Despite catching a glimpse of the RB20 on a rainy day at Silverstone through the lens of a distant mobile phone, the true capabilities and design nuances of this machine remain a puzzle.

Amidst this, certain features of the RB20 have been confidently identified, particularly the intriguing design of the side pod inlets have sparked a wave of speculation and analysis.

Scarborough, however, expresses scepticism regarding the authenticity of the renders showcased by Red Bull. He articulates his doubts by stating: “You kind of have to be a bit guarded because Red Bull have historically been so poor at giving us any real information at launches, and the RB20 was no different to any of the others. They showed us a render which had lots of shadows and hid many of the details.

“They showed us a real car on stage which was very poorly lit. We’ve obviously seen the car on track at Silverstone, but that was in the wet and taken from someone’s mobile phone from two miles away, so we haven’t got a lot of genuine idea of exactly what’s going on.

“There are some features that we know are definitely there, so we can cover them off, and there are some features that everybody’s guessing at, which is the side pod inlets that we really do have to deep talk about.

“But I guess the key thing is if we look back and think, well, what did Red Bull have to do to their RB19? Adrian Newey was quite clear and said it was an evolution. Christian Horner has said that it’s not, it’s more of a radical departure for them. But last year’s car, they called it the perfect car. What was its poor points?

“I can only think of a couple, which was that it was slow to warm its tires up, which obviously affected the first laps and qualifying, but its in-race tire performance was almost unmatched, and that’s probably where we saw the best of them.

“The other time we saw them struggle was at circuits with bumps where they had to raise the ride height, and it just put the floor out of its working window, and everything fell apart for them. I don’t think either of those are necessarily things that you want to eradicate completely.

“I think you could improve them slightly, but on every other aspect of performance, that car was the best, so they just had to kind of tweak it. And I think they’ve actually gone a lot further than just a slight evolution.

“Talking about the car, up front, the big visible changes include a slightly longer nose. The nose now extends over that front main plane element, so it’s a full-length nose like we saw some of the cars back in 2022 have.

“And I think there’s some shape change to come there because it just doesn’t look a finished part. One feature of the nose that’s not there is the little hole that we always see at the front of the nose, which is strictly speaking for driver cooling purposes.

“That’s missing, and that could be for two reasons: one, that this is a fake nose; they’ve not put it in there because it does have some aerodynamic advantages at the stagnation point at the front of the nose. But what we have seen is Red Bull got two little scoops on just above the driver’s feet on that removable panel halfway up the nose, which are part of the new regulations which allow the teams to have much bigger driver cooling slots after the Qatar issues last year.

“Elsewhere, the front push rod with the anti-dive setup, downwash setup, that front suspension is all very much the same. The cockpit and the roll hoop area again all very much the same. And then the other big change that we can see is how they’ve packaged the cooling, so the hot air comes out from the radiators and the intercoolers and sweeps up inside the bodywork.

“As previously, it would come out through louvers and a big double-barreled paddle on the engine cover. They’ve just made that a bit more aggressive this year, very much like Mercedes ran last year with that big double barrel with the big gullies on there, which is all about just taking that area behind the Halo in the cockpit and just fairing it all back and making that cooling outlet again, nothing really important there. Rear wing, everything around the back of the car, rear suspension exactly as we’ve seen. So that really just leaves this one area which are the side pods, which was probably always the area that we were going to see.

“They’ve obviously done stuff to the floor, they’ve obviously worked on that. We can’t see that, so we can’t talk about it. So, if we remember last year, Red Bull went through about three iterations of side pod where they slowly brought the inlets higher and higher with a big lip underneath them to get that big undercut working the floor edge underneath.

“And I expected them to go sort of super radical by having almost the inlet behind that top beak and the air cascade inwards. They’ve actually gone the opposite direction, and this is probably due to packaging and an internal airflow idea. So now we still have a very high, almost beak front to the side pod, like a very duck bill shape, and the inlet is the question.

In all of the images, all people can really see is a vertical inlet, almost a bit like the Mercedes zero pod had early last year and the year before. I don’t believe that’s the side pod inlet.

I think that is what we’re seeing on a number of cars where it’s effectively an S-duct like we see particularly on the Ferrari. I believe the true inlet is actually underneath that duck bill top lip to the side pod and it’s very forward-facing, very small, but in that area, it’s really efficient at actually grabbing the air and directing it straight past the internal crash structures inside the front of the side pods and then straight to where the radiators are.

“So, it may be that they looked at having what we call the underbite side pod where the air goes over but found that just packaging the air to get through to the radiator was too much, so they’ve actually lifted that beak up. It’s become an overbite as we call it and take the air underneath.

“Now, we can’t really see it in any photographs. We’ve seen it in the 3D renders if you lighten them and play about with them, so that’s my best guess. I’m quite accepting that I could be proved wrong on this. Everyone else seems to think it’s this vertical slot.

“Again, I’m not so sure, but it just shows that they are finding areas where they can still play with the shapes of these cars within the regulatory boxes that they’ve got and where they’ve got to put things like the side impact structures and where they have the radiators. The rest of the side pod is actually surprisingly conventional.

“They don’t have much of a gully going down the side pods. They don’t have these kind of aggressive water slides that we’ve seen with Aston Martin and Alpine in particular. I think this could be for two reasons: one, that Newey just doesn’t really kind of believe in that concept, but what we do see is those gullies, the very slight gullies that you have go down and then just about where the engine is, dip down suddenly at the end.

“Now, I think the reason they’ve had to go this shape is because of the radiator package. Now, we know that Red Bull struggled with weight in the past couple of years, and they are the only one, with Red Bull and with Honda, are the only package where they retain the big air-to-air turbo intercoolers in the side pods.

“Everyone else has gone to these modern 3D printed ones that could be mounted inside the car with just a low-temperature radiator mounted somewhere else. Red Bull still have these really bulky intercoolers. Now, I’d guess that rather than going with the water to air setup that Newey is probably aerodynamically slightly better but is heavier.

“So, I think until we see the bodywork off, that looks like the reason they’ve not got too aggressive in areas because of these big intercoolers. And apart from that, it looks like they’ve made no other major changes to the car, just thought in very different directions, and sets us up for a fascinating year because at this stage, who’s won the design competition of the new cars?

“And is it Mercedes, is it Ferrari, is it McLaren? I think at the moment, Red Bull are probably looking the best. They’ve got the best starting point, and they’ve done the most clever solutions. So, we’ll see for certain in testing next week.”