‘High suspicions’ over Red Bull emerge as RB20 ‘dummy car’ theory revealed

‘High suspicions’ over Red Bull emerge as RB20 ‘dummy car’ theory revealed

Deviating from last year’s dominant RB19 to put Mercedes-styled parts on the RB20, Bernie Collins is “not sure” the Red Bull unveiled at the team’s launch will be the car on track in testing.

Red Bull raised eyebrows when, as the last team to launch their 2024 challenger, the reigning World Champions took a notably different path with the design of the new car.

Incorporating Mercedes-styled sidepod inlets that the team ran last season, but scrapped with this year’s car, the engine cover also features a design Mercedes used last year with its long cooling gulleys.

Did Red Bull take the covers off a ‘dummy car’ at the launch?

Team boss Christian Horner was adamant this wasn’t a “tactical” move to show up Mercedes, as “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”.

However, Sky Sports analyst Collins isn’t so sure it is better, in fact, she’s wondering if Red Bull took the covers off a fake car.

“I think maybe years in F1 have made me suspicious,” she said in the latest Sky F1 podcast, “so let’s see the car that rolls out on Day One in Bahrain because I’m not sure it’s going to be that car.

“This could just be a little joke.”

Put to her it could be a “dummy car”, the former F1 strategy engineer for the Aston Martin team agreed: “Yeah, I am highly suspicious but let’s see.”

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‘Have Red Bull done the miss in the other direction?

But if, and it’s a big if, this is the RB20 that hits the track in Bahrain on Wednesday as pre-season testing begins, Collins is interested to see whether Red Bull have potentially fallen for the same data that misled Mercedes for two years.

“If they do rock up with that car, then it’s a brave, brave move because they could have easily continued to develop the car they had. That would have been, I think, the safer bet,” she said.

“The worry is, and we obviously know Adrian Newey and the Red Bull team are very, very good, strong aerodynamic designers, they have proven that year after year, but Mercedes obviously felt it could work when they put that on the first car.

“They obviously had enough simulation data, and aero data, and all of these things to say this car is the best we can do.

“So something is amiss between what they thought that car could do, and what it could actually do, and have Red Bull done the miss in the other direction?

“I’m not surprised they’ve been working on it, because as soon as you see another car with a very different concept, you start to look at have you missed something. Even a slower car, you start to think, is there something there that we’re missing?

“So I’m not surprised that they’ve been looking at it in the wind tunnel and not surprised that they’ve been experimenting with if they can get more out of it.

“I’m just surprised that they’ve gone with it. So they’ve clearly – if they go with it, they’ve clearly seen something that means they think they can beat their previous-developed car.

“But is there a miss in the simulation that has also convinced Mercedes over the past two years to stick with it?

“So if that car rocks up, which I’m going to be very interested to see, Bahrain qualifying is going to be really interesting.


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