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Red Bull remains uncertain if implementing Mercedes-style sidepods will work

Red Bull revealed some surprising changes to its 2024 contender, with the most notable being the resemblances of the Mercedes W14

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Helmut Marko reveals Red Bull still isn’t fully confident with its Mercedes-style approach for 2024.

Red Bull's vertical inlet pictured above. Photo credits: Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull’s vertical inlet pictured below the wing mirrors. Photo credits: Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull launched its RB20 at the Milton Keynes factory last Friday. Though the colours weren’t differentiating from other seasons the car itself featured some interesting concepts.

The dominant RB19, featured an underbite arrangement – which a majority of teams have adopted for this season.

But for 2024, the team changed to an overbite setup. Red Bull’s sidepods appeared to have a narrow vertical inlet which was eerily similar to the Mercedes W14 that attempted to use ‘zeropods’. However, unlike Mercedes’ design, Red Bull has gone with a more conventional look for its sidepods which contain deeper undercuts.

That wasn’t the only Mercedes inspired change Red Bull made, the car also features long cooling gulleys along the engine cover.

The reveal initially caught people off guard as it wasn’t suspected Red Bull would make any significant changes – especially with a design Mercedes decided to scrap.

However, Christian Horner speaks confidently about the new changes and that they’ve all been based on ‘performance’:

“It’s not tactical, it’s based on performance and what we’re seeing through our simulation tools.

“Obviously the car looks quite visibly different in certain areas to last year. Only the stopwatch will tell but in the virtual world we wouldn’t have committed it to design if we didn’t feel it was better.”

Autosport reported that this look will be primarily used for hotter temperatures at the start of the season and once the teams enter cooler conditions, Red Bull are said to be upgrading the sidepods further to a more extreme ‘zeropods’ approach.

Helmut Marko weighs in

The ‘zeropods’ idea itself has showed great figures in the wind tunnel, but this concept never seemed to work for the Brackley-based team.

There is no on track evidence of the concept working, hence why Helmut Marko is still a little bit skeptical about it and is one of the reasons why pre-season testing will be critical for Red Bull.

“They were also convinced by the data of their sidepod-less concept, but in practice, it didn’t work at all.” Marko said to Servus TV when asked about the changes.

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

“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 clarified.

Featured image credits: Red Bull Content Pool

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