According to Pierre Waché, Red Bull Racing’s technical director, the competition will benefit little from copying large parts of the RB19’s concept. The car that made Red Bull so successful in 2023 did indeed have a number of fascinating parts, but despite the fact that copying is theoretically possible, Waché does not believe that it is a wise choice within Formula 1 to do something without any form of understanding and knowledge. to adopt blindly.
It cannot be said often enough: Red Bull has had an incredibly special and fantastic year. With a number of talented people on board, including a driven Max Verstappen behind the wheel of the RB19, the car’s strong concept almost became the icing on the cake on the road to dominance. In the end, this dominance did not take long to emerge, because the competition was regularly a street length behind Verstappen. At Red Bull they are logically satisfied with the results of 2023, but the competition is busy closing the gap with the Austrian racing team in 2024. Here and there, Red Bull’s car is therefore already being closely monitored, although Waché expects that copying parts of the RB19 concept will be a job that will not be done so easily.
Copying can quickly end in tears, according to Waché
In conversation with Motorsport.com, Red Bull’s technical director emphasized that copying itself will not even be the most difficult part for the competition. ‘Copying will certainly be a possible option, but an even more important question remains. Just like in many technical industries, it is not so much a matter of how we are going to do something, but mainly why we are making a choice.’ Designing and fine-tuning a concept for a Formula 1 car is already a difficult job, but Waché also knows that teams will make little progress with a concept that they do not understand. ‘If you don’t know why you copy, you can make hundreds of copies, but then you might as well follow a path where you fully understand everything.’
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To many, the idea of copying parts from the competition seems like a crazy idea, although Waché emphasized that in Formula 1 it is actually not a crazy idea at all. ‘We sometimes copy something ourselves, or sometimes we get inspiration from the designs of others. It reminds me a bit of Darwin’s theory, but within our sport.’ In a sport like Formula 1, everything revolves around improvement and constant development, but in recent years it quickly became clear what happens when concepts are adopted indiscriminately. ‘If you see something somewhere, you can use it yourself in an attempt to improve your own concept, but the most important thing is that you also understand the copied part yourself. There is simply no point in copying for the sake of copying, because it is important to have the necessary knowledge and to work towards a certain overall picture.’
Competition has a chance to catch up with Red Bull
However, according to the technical director, there is another important aspect to the issue of copying, because according to Waché the relative nature of Formula 1 plays a major role in the usability of certain concepts. It is not the case that one concept will one hundred percent certainly work out better than the other. Yet the Frenchman emphasizes one thing: ‘Everything is relative. It is quite possible that the competition will come along next year with exactly the same concept as we used last year, but if the competition has suddenly been able to close the gap, that once successful concept will suddenly no longer be so strong.’
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Yet in 2023, Red Bull regularly showed that there was no lack of knowledge and understanding of the concept within the team, and Waché also noticed that the Austrian racing team had things in order on the technical side. ‘All the elements came together very well for us. We couldn’t eliminate all the weaknesses, but the weaknesses that remained did not cause dramatic scenes.’ After a particularly successful season, the Singapore Grand Prix emerged as the only major setback after Verstappen missed out on victory, but otherwise the Austrian racing stable had little to complain about, according to Waché. ‘The ratio between downforce and drag was good, and in terms of tire management it also went great, so that was beneficial for our race pace.’
Waché can only say one thing about the competition: there is no specific secret to achieving dominance. ‘That will always depend on the state of affairs of the competition. It may well be that they made a mistake in the development of the cars last year, but if you look at McLaren, for example, things could also go in a completely different direction.’ While McLaren seemed to be on the rise, Mercedes and Ferrari had a much more difficult time for a long time, and Waché has a general idea why that was the case. ‘Other teams have simply approached it differently, but the difference between all the teams is immediately noticeable. If the competition had taken different steps, I wouldn’t even be talking about Red Bull’s dominance!’