MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15: The RB20 is pictured during the Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 car launch at Red Bull Racing Factory on February 15, 2024 in Milton Keynes, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images for Red Bull Racing) // SI202402150751 // Usage for editorial use only //

Red Bull RB20 sure to have rival F1 teams worried

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15: The RB20 is pictured during the Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 car launch at Red Bull Racing Factory on February 15, 2024 in Milton Keynes, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images for Red Bull Racing) // SI202402150751 // Usage for editorial use only //

Formula 1 teams will go testing with some trepidation in Bahrain next week amid fears Red Bull may have again stolen a march with their latest masterpiece – the RB20 – an aggressive evolution of last year’s most dominant car of all time.

The reigning World Champions launched their 2024 F1 challenger, the Red Bull RB20, on Thursday and the minute it broke cover it is likely to have not provided much comfort for rivals still playing catch up from last season when RBR won 21 of 22 races.

Former Jordan, Stewart and Jaguar designer Gary Anderson told The Race: “I think there will be a few other teams’ technical departments going ‘holy shit’, where do we go from here?”

Red Bull’s triple F1 world champion Max Verstappen said his reaction on seeing the first drawings at the end of last season was: “Wow, that’s quite different.”

The main focus concerned the new-look Red Bull sidepods, now with tall and slim vertical radiator inlets that looked similar to those attempted and abandoned by former champions Mercedes last season.

Team principal Christian Horner said the car was an evolution of the RB19 but acknowledged it was not conservative and contained real innovation.

The team boss said the changes were driven by performance based on simulation tools: “You can see they’ve been quite aggressive in certain areas and still pushing the boundaries, conscious that our opponents are still going to be pushing very hard. Some of the detail on the car is absolutely exquisite.”

Newey: Is it enough? Who knows…

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing pose for a photo with the RB20 during the Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 car launch at Red Bull Racing Factory on February 15, 2024 in Milton Keynes, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images for Red Bull Racing) // SI202402150760 // Usage for editorial use only //

Star designer Adrian Newey said the team had made improvements to all areas – mechanical, vehicle dynamics and aerodynamics: “Is it enough? Who knows. That’s the thing about Formula 1.

“We know roughly what we’ve done from the shakedown at Silverstone, from what we can tell it’s behaved as we expect it to but that’s no guarantee of anything. It could be that some other team has made a bigger jump than us. Last year’s car really was a total surprise in terms of its dominance,” admitted Newey.

The fear is that Red Bull may have moved to another level of development while rivals, some of whom have said openly that they consider the champions to be beatable, launched cars clearly influenced by the RB19.

Red Bull’s Mexican veteran Sergio Perez said: “I believe we’ve made some good steps in the right direction so it should be another great season for the team

Teams have three days of testing in Bahrain from 21-23 February before the 2024 F1 World Championship opening race on 2 March at the same venue.

Red Bull rival, Mercedes technical director James Allison of the pre-season ‘development war’ period and the uneasy mix of anticipation and trepidation”It’s a bit like waiting for Christmas. It is exciting. You want it to arrive, and you want the days to fly by.

“You also know that the Christmas Day opening of those presents might not bring you all the good fortune you wish for. It’s not a relaxing time of year, but it is very exhilarating,” added Allison, who will be one of those concerned by the RB20. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)