Red Bull surprised F1 rivals took so long to understand its DRS secret

Red Bull has admitted it is surprised Formula 1 rivals have taken so long to understand why its DRS is so good.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

The Milton Keynes-based squad has produced some eye-opening performances this year thanks to a huge advantage that drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez enjoy when the DRS is open.

The opposition have been looking closely to try to understand if there is a clever trick that Red Bull has deployed to deliver the speed boost.

Lewis Hamilton also recently prompted some intrigue about what Red Bull was up to, as he questioned why the team’s DRS advantage appeared to have gone at the high-downforce Hungaroring track.

But, as Autosport revealed, there is a growing acceptance that the key to Red Bull’s DRS advantage is the ratio of drag that it balances between its rear wing and beam wing.

Because the squad’s RB19 is so stable at the rear, the team can get away with running a much smaller beam wing – sometimes even just a single element – than its rivals dare to.

This means that its rear wing contributes a bigger share of its overall drag in a straightline, so when the DRS is activated it therefore sheds more air resistance.

At tracks where ultimate downforce is more important than aero efficiency (like Hungary), Red Bull follows other teams in going for a bigger beam wing because of the performance benefits in corners – which is why its DRS advantage is not as good at such tracks.

Rival teams have now started trying to develop their cars in the Red Bull direction, but accept that trimming back on the beam wings is complicated because of how much downforce they deliver to help stabilise the rear end of the cars.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, rear wing detail

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, rear wing detail

Photo by: Mark Sutton

Red Bull technical director Pierre Wache has said there is no deep secret to what his squad has done, and is surprised it has taken rivals so long to understand something that his outfit has been doing since the start of the latest ground effect era.

“What is crazy is that the people speak about that two years after we introduced it,” Wache told Autosport. “We have had hundreds of tests from the FIA to check if we had a trick of whatever, and the people [even recently] don't understand why, on the very high downforce tracks, the advantage disappears.

“Okay [it means] they still don't understand then. That very much surprises us.”

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McLaren team principal Andrea Stella suggested recently that Red Bull’s advantage with the DRS would likely remain in place for a while, because the team had got such a head start with its design.

“They seem to have pursued this concept for some time,” explained Stella, when asked by Autosport if the beam wing approach was key to the DRS gain.

“So, I think they may be taking some advantage from having a lot of experience in developing this kind of configuration. I think this has now become apparent over time.

“We are, I think all teams now, trying to see what is possible to exploit by developing this kind of direction.”

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