Red Bull Takes a Leap with Mercedes Sidepod Design

Red Bull remains uncertain about the success of its adaptation of the Mercedes-style sidepod design in Formula 1.

The team, based in Milton Keynes, has taken a bold approach to revamping its car for the current season, incorporating designs that bear a resemblance to those previously used by Mercedes.

This overhaul includes the addition of high gulleys along the engine cover and streamlined sidepods, featuring a vertical inlet similar to Mercedes’ zeropod concept introduced early last year.

Furthermore, Red Bull plans to unveil an even more radical sidepod design aimed at improving performance in cooler early-season races by reducing airflow to the radiators.

The team’s exploration of concepts akin to those of Mercedes has sparked considerable interest. However, Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s motorsport advisor, has expressed a note of caution regarding this strategy.

He acknowledges the impressive performance metrics the zeropod design demonstrated in wind tunnel testing, but also notes Mercedes’ challenges in translating these benefits to actual racing conditions.

Marko emphasizes the importance of the upcoming Bahrain test for Red Bull, as it will be crucial in determining the viability of their design in practical scenarios.

Inquired about Red Bull’s decision to implement a strategy that Mercedes eventually discarded, Marko spoke to Servus TV, saying: “They were also convinced by the data of their sidepod-less concept, but in practice, it didn’t work at all.

“We will now see in the tests whether we can successfully implement this solution, or let’s say a similar solution.”

He further stated: “Adrian Newey [Red Bull’s chief technical officer] always favoured cars without radiators. But of course, the engine people can’t do that. That is logical.

“We don’t have it as extreme [as Mercedes], but we have it in a similar direction in terms of the idea.”

Marko further mentioned that the initial version of the car introduced at the launch would serve as the foundation for the RB20, which the team plans to use at the season’s start. He commended the team’s efforts in enhancing the already dominant RB19 from the previous year.

“It’s more than an evolution. It’s a small revolution,” he stated. “It is the basis of what will be used in 2024. In terms of simulation and the wind tunnel, it all worked very well.”