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Red Bull: Copying alone not enough to help rivals catch up in F1

Red Bull says rivals just copying its Formula 1 car concept will not be enough to help them catch up to it this season.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, 1st position, performs donuts on the grid at the end of the race

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

In the wake of Red Bull’s total domination of F1 in 2023, it is anticipated that its competitors will converge on the concept that the Milton Keynes-based team has put to such good use since the latest ground effect era started. 

That should, in theory, help deliver a much closer battle throughout the 2024 season with much of its main opposition having gone the wrong way with their car designs last year. 

But Red Bull technical director Pierre Wache thinks that other teams will need to go further than just trying to repeat what his squad has done.

He suggests that more important to unlocking speed is getting to the bottom of why it has done things the way it has. 

“I think it’s possible to copy, but in every business in the world, when it’s technical, the ‘how’ is one aspect,” he told Autosport. “The most important aspect is ‘why’.  

“If you don’t know ‘why’, you can copy whatever you want, but it’s better to stay with what you understand.” 

Wache said that copying other teams' ideas was commonplace in F1 and something his squad did from time to time. 

Jake Dennis, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Jake Dennis, Red Bull Racing

However, while it opened the door to potentially make progress with your own car, there were also no guarantees that something which worked for a competitor would benefit others. 

“We also copy some stuff,” he said. “We [might] copy the wrong thing, but you [also] inspire yourself based on what you see from others.  

“It’s like a Darwin effect, this business. You see something from others, you add another idea to it and you develop and you grow your concept, your strengths and your capacity.  

“But, every time, it has to be on the understanding aspect. If you just copy for copying’s sake, it doesn’t work.  

“You [need to] have the knowledge and also what you want to achieve. If you don’t have the same golden aim of characteristics, it doesn’t bring anything.” 

Wache also thinks that it wrong to label last year’s RB19 as the perfect car, as he said there were elements to it that needed to be improved. 

While it won 21 out of the 22 races over the course of the season, he is clear that performance in F1 is relative to others.

Pierre Wache, Race Engineer, Red Bull Racing, Helmut Marko, Consultant, Red Bull Racing, in the garage

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Pierre Wache, Race Engineer, Red Bull Racing, Helmut Marko, Consultant, Red Bull Racing, in the garage

“You can have the same car and the others do a better job than you,” he said. 

“We put everything together. The car has some weaknesses, but not a big one. [It’s] quite efficient in terms of downforce versus drag. That’s clearly a key and also [it’s] quite gentle on tyres for the race pace.  

“That, I think, is one of the key [elements], because if you look at qualifying we didn’t do all the poles. We just won all the races [bar one].  

“The dominance also depends on what the others did. Maybe the others made some mistakes to develop their car, because when you see the level of development that McLaren put together during the season, and the capacity they have to be closer to us with quite a bad start to the season, you say maybe the others didn’t put the car together.” 

He added: “Dominance is very dependent also on the others, I would say. I don’t want to put pressure on the others… We did a good job, but we have plenty of room for improvement I would say.”

Quotes from Alex Kalinauckas/Ronald Vording 

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