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RB F1 car "among those which look the least" like 2023 Red Bull

RB team principal Laurent Mekies thinks his Formula 1 team's car is "among those which look the least" like Red Bull's 2023 car, addressing any concerns over IP sharing.

Yuki Tsunoda, RB F1 Team VCARB 01

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Issues over the partnership with Red Bull and RB, the former AlphaTauri team, have rumbled on in recent months, with McLaren's Zak Brown particularly vocal over the potential issues arising from one entity owning two F1 teams.

Brown's concerns stem from much more than staff transferring between the two teams and thereby sharing IP, and also relate to areas including political influence and race strategy.

But on a technical level, Mekies believes the design of its VCARB01 shows that the Anglo-Italian squad is still very much charting its own course rather than copying its parent team.

"Our car is not the Red Bull of last year, it simply isn't, and if anyone feels like analysing it technically, they will see it," Mekies said in an exclusive interview with Autosport's sister website Motorsport.com Italy.

"All our rivals, without exception, tried to find inspiration looking at the RB19, so did we, but we know from Formula 1 history that copying is not something unusual.

"We see it even today in the paddock, no two cars are identical or even close to being identical, and I would add that after seeing all the cars in the pitlane I can say that visually ours is among those which look the least like the RB19.

Laurent Mekies, Team Principal, RB F1 Team, Liam Lawson, Reserve Driver, Visa Cash App RB F1 Team

Laurent Mekies, Team Principal, RB F1 Team, Liam Lawson, Reserve Driver, Visa Cash App RB F1 Team

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

"Nobody from Red Bull is interested in playing around in grey areas of the rules, and fortunately for us the rules are very clear. We share some components that the rules allow, as does half the pitlane."

Mekies argues that because shareable components, such as gearboxes and suspension parts, are not key differentiators between teams, it means squads who are struggling to meet the cost cap without additional investment from their owners can continue to spend their budgets in more performance relevant areas.

"We have not seen a Williams on pole or a Haas on the podium, and this is because the shareable components did not include parts that were particularly significant in terms of performance, instead focusing on parts with a high development/cost ratio," he explained.

"These regulations also aimed to favour a new business model, to offer the possibility for a Formula 1 team to compete on the track without obliging it to make very significant investments in certain components, such as transmissions.

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"I would like to point out that even at such a favourable time for F1 on the financial front, our owners continue to allocate budget every year, and I think this is the case for a large part of the grid.

"I don't think there is any basis for deciding to change this part of the regulations, ultimately just to please one team. The danger is that we will make a wrong choice for our sport as a whole."

Mekies also played down the impact of RB reverting to taking Red Bull's suspension across the 2023 season, saying the outfit's constant aero development was a much bigger factor in its uplift in performance that moved it up from 10th to eighth towards the end of the year.

Daniel Ricciardo, RB F1 Team VCARB 01

Daniel Ricciardo, RB F1 Team VCARB 01

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

"It certainly wasn't just a matter of suspension. We saw that nothing miraculous happened in terms of performance," he added.

"The team was 10th in the championship for a long time, and to try and change things the decision was made to make a much bigger change with a development programme that went right up to the last race in Abu Dhabi.

"Practically half the car was changed and the results were also evident because of the fact that it was the only team having a development programme at that stage.

"It was a gamble that paid off, the team gained two positions in the constructors' championship, and besides the sporting reward there was also the financial one."

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