One of the standout characteristics of the dominant RB19 is the DRS advantage that has helped Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez often be unstoppable on the straights.
It has played a crucial role in generating remarkable qualifying performances and enabling both drivers to easily surpass their competitors in races.
While the scale of the Red Bull DRS gain prompted theories earlier in the year about a trick system being in place to help unleash its speed boost, rivals have quickly come to understand the dynamics at play.
And rather than it being something that operates in a grey area of the rules, the reality is that the system is more to do with how Red Bull balances drag levels at the rear of the car.
Red Bull has deliberately chosen to have a bigger ratio of drag coming from its rear wing than its beam wing – so when the main wing opens it means there is a greater speed jump.
However, competitors cannot replicate this strategy as their vehicles do not generate sufficient performance from the diffuser, preventing them from reducing the beam wing. The beam wing is responsible for generating significant downforce and drag, serving as a valuable asset in enhancing rear end stability.
McLaren has begun to push a bit harder in this region, and introduced a more efficient beam wing at the Belgian Grand Prix that it hoped would shift the drag ratios at the rear and start unlocking some more DRS gains.
Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60
Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images
But team principal Andrea Stella is clear that it will be a long-term process to develop the rear of the car in the way that Red Bull has done over the past two seasons.
Stella clarified that they had been working on this idea for a while, in response to Motorsport.com’s question about whether the beam wing approach was crucial for the DRS improvement.
I believe they might be benefiting from their extensive experience in creating this type of setup. I think this has become evident as time has passed.
“We are, I think all teams now, trying to see what is possible to exploit by developing this kind of direction.”
Aston Martin, which had a notable DRS deficit to Red Bull in the early races when it was its closest challenger, says it too is working in this direction to try to unleash improvements.
“I believe the modifications we implemented in [Belgium] were primarily aligned with those principles,” stated Tom McCullough, the performance director.
“It’s about the interaction of the whole back end of the car. If you look at the back of the car, everything’s working together, whether it is the rear brake furniture, whether it’s the diffuser, whether it’s the beam and the rear wing.
“They’re sucking everything out of the back of the car, and it’s obviously the ratios that you play between those.
“Obviously you want stable aerodynamics, but you want a big old switch when you open up DRS as well. It’s also dependent on rear wing level and so many other factors as well.
Red Bull clearly excelled in that aspect at the beginning of last year, demonstrating their strength in it. Since then, others have been striving to reach a similar level.