If Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez don’t encounter any unfortunate events in the second half of the season, they could potentially achieve a never-before-seen clean-sweep in Formula 1 as a challenger.
However, although the RB19 is surpassing its competitors, Red Bull has a distinct perspective on the car.
For it does not see the RB19 as being a particular stand-out contender that has delivered anything super spectacular. It is simply a car that is decent in all areas.
As Red Bull’s technical director Pierre Wache tells Motorsport.com: “It is average good for everything, which is creating a good car.
The performance in one aspect is not very impressive. Although we perceive it as good due to our speed compared to others, I must admit that we didn’t excel in a remarkable way. We simply did a decent job.
I was particularly taken aback by others who didn’t perform as well, I must say. This is why our initial expectations differed from the start of the year.
I prefer not to be overly humble, but when you observe certain teams achieving a one-second improvement per lap over the course of three races, it indicates that combining their efforts would yield satisfactory results. This accomplishment does not necessitate a lengthy two-year development process.
The 2023 prediction
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing
Photo by: Erik Junius
Despite ending the 2022 season on a high note with 10 victories in the final 11 races, Red Bull expressed concerns about being caught up by other teams this year.
It believed a combination of a change in floor regulations, Mercedes getting its act together on the zeropod concept and Ferrari switching early focus to its 2023 car, would leave it facing a three-way title fight.
It never considered the idea of being unbeatable and winning every race up until now.
“We didn’t expect that,” Wache clarified. “Our expectation was to potentially be engaged in a competitive battle for victory against two teams, Mercedes and Ferrari.”
“We believed that our advantage towards the end of the previous year was insufficient. However, the alteration in regulations pertaining to the floor, specifically the increase in the floor edge and kick line, is expected to attract those teams again.”
“It would be challenging to achieve success due to the perceived decline in performance we experienced during the winter, particularly after October when we had limited wind tunnel time. Therefore, it was quite unexpected at the start of the season.”
A better compromise
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19
Photo by: Erik Junius
The extent of Red Bull’s superiority this year has compelled both competitors and spectators to seek explanations for what the team has done exceptionally well with the RB19.
As time passes, it appears that there is an increasing agreement that there isn’t one exceptional element that stands out. In fact, as previously mentioned by Wache, the RB19 is simply considered to be “average good” in all aspects.
The focus appears to be on the overall functioning of the car as a whole, encompassing various aspects such as aerodynamics (including downforce and drag), ride quality, handling, suspension, and configuration.
Wache is not completely convinced about the notion that Red Bull’s historical advantage in vehicle dynamics is currently beneficial.
Instead, his belief is that the RB19 stands out due to the lesser compromises required to make it a fast ground effect car compared to its competitors.
He expressed that he believes we do not possess a superior understanding compared to others, but rather we may have a compromise that is possibly more advantageous than others.
I believe most people have a general understanding that the mechanical grip’s influence has increased compared to the past, and stiffness plays a significant role in this.
The connection between the aerodynamic properties and the driving approach of the car has become even more significant than previously. Additionally, certain dampers [inerters] that were highly beneficial, particularly for this kind of vehicle, have been eliminated due to regulations, and we no longer possess them.
I believe that the way we designed the car led us to find a more suitable solution. However, this is not due to our enhanced comprehension.
Wind tunnel penalty
Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
Red Bull’s advantage this year is particularly remarkable because they have managed to maintain it despite facing the challenge of being limited by aerodynamic testing restrictions, which put them at a disadvantage.
Due to both leading the constructors’ championship and a 10% additional decrease due to exceeding the 2021 cost cap, Red Bull has been compelled to undertake limited advancements for the RB19, contrary to their preferences.
It currently gets 63% of the current baseline figures, compared to Mercedes on 75%, and Aston Martin on 80%. McLaren, because it did not score many points before the June 30 switchover, gets 95%.
Although there are obvious drawbacks to receiving fewer wind tunnel runs compared to the competition, Wache also proposes an intriguing idea. He suggests that being conscious of this disadvantage has compelled the team to enhance their sharpness and adopt a more strategic approach.
“In all honesty, in our current circumstances, it is definitely a drawback,” he clarified. “However, it serves as an incentive for the team to ensure that they do not waste time on unnecessary things.”
The level of efficiency in what you observe needs to be reassessed, whereas previously it was not subject to as much scrutiny.
“It is beneficial for us to maintain a sense of hunger, as it is difficult for us, particularly within the technical team, to comprehend receiving such a penalty when we have performed well.”
“They perceive it as a direct affront, which prompts them to perform even more proficiently, thereby increasing their level of motivation. I believe there are certain benefits associated with this response.”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
Despite the RB19’s consistent victories this season, it has faced difficulties in certain areas. It is evident that the opposition remains a formidable challenge.
Red Bull is actively acknowledging that in order to maintain its success, it must address certain weaknesses instead of passively relying on the good times to continue.
Wache was questioned about any car problems that caused him sleepless nights, to which he replied: “Everything is disrupting my sleep! I believe our team is strong because we remain grounded. We don’t take anything for granted when it comes to the other teams.”
In situations with significant downforce, particularly in circuits like Budapest and Monaco, I believe our vulnerabilities become evident. Additionally, this is true during qualifying sessions and in low-speed sections.
“I believe certain teams have achieved a more favorable balance compared to us in that aspect, and it’s an area where we need to make further enhancements.”
And is this feet-on-the-ground attitude that leaves Wache sceptical about hailing the RB19 as one of the greatest F1 cars of all time, even if it becomes statistically the most successful.
“I have doubts,” he expressed regarding its status as one of the greatest F1 designs. “Perhaps we will come to understand that next year, as I anticipate the upcoming car to surpass this one in overall quality.”
The car’s achievement is remarkable, but I believe it is the result of a collaboration between the car and the driver. Furthermore, it is the culmination of extensive efforts made since 2014, including team rebuilding, the addition of new personnel, the establishment of a new organization, and the collective contribution of all these factors. This success did not occur suddenly or by coincidence.