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Mercedes: Red Bull's "Great Wall" copy not key to RB20's success

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has acknowledged the similarities between its 2023 Formula 1 car and this year's Red Bull, but believes the RB20's performance will come from different areas.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The new Red Bull has caught the attention because its sidepods and what Wolff has called "The Great Wall" engine cover have much in common with the concept used by Mercedes on its 2022 and 2023 cars, but which has now been abandoned.

However, Wolff says that while the RB20 looks outwardly like the W13/W14 series, its real secrets are hidden from view.

"Well, there are a few things that they have adopted from our car," he told Austrian broadcaster ORF.

"Not just the zero sidepod, but of course we also had this bodywork engine cover, which we called 'The Great Wall', which they have adopted. It's not marvellous aesthetically, but it makes sense.

"But the real performance takes place on the underfloor. These are ground-effect cars, where it's also about the downforce and the mechanical handling characteristics.

"And that's where they've been very strong in recent years, and there will probably have been a further development, but not such a radical change of concept as you can see at first glance with the bodywork."

Wolff said that Red Bull had followed what the wind tunnel suggested in opting not to simply develop its 2023 concept that was already working well and had yielded victories in all but one grand prix.

"An extremely courageous step," he said. "Because if they had proceeded conservatively, they would have developed a really good car further.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Motorsport Images

"But the data will always guide you in the development, and the data will probably have shown that what they are doing with the new car, these new developments, actually brings significantly more downforce or better handling characteristics. Because otherwise, Red Bull wouldn't have done it.

"And they have always been innovative in recent years, they were the team that was the benchmark. And in that respect, I'm convinced that they knew what they were doing."

RB technical director Jody Egginton said that it was a surprise to see the sister team make such a bold step, and admitted that it was a source of inspiration.

"Their last year's car was very good," said Egginton. "And they clearly wanted to maintain the advantage, so they've been aggressive. But then Mercedes had been quite aggressive as well, I think, and Ferrari in some areas.

"So on the one hand, it was a surprise. But then Red Bull set everyone a good benchmark last year. And I'm sure they anticipated people were looking closely at what they were doing. And all they've done is go, 'Okay, you look at what we were doing. And this is where we're going!'

"So I think it's fantastic, I really do, super interesting. It certainly got the attention of engineers and designers in our team, and I'm sure in all the other teams."

Additional reporting by Norman Fischer

 

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