Red Bull unsure they can make Mercedes-style sidepods work


Helmut Marko has revealed that Red Bull is committed to reducing the sidepod real estate on its new RB20, following a design previously exploited by Mercedes, but doubts linger about whether the concept can be successful.

Formula 1 pre-season testing is officially underway, and the spotlight shines brightly on Red Bull's 2024 car, and particularly on its sidepod design.

While the car boasts several innovations, the sidepods bear a resemblance to Mercedes' 2023 design. They feature a vertical inlet - although much tighter than Mercedes - and also a horizontal intake just under the sidepod's overbite.

But Marko has hinted that Red Bull’s engineers are working on a more extreme solution, similar to the ‘zero-sidepod’ concept introduced by the Brackley squad at the start of its 2022 campaign, with an implementation scheduled for the Japanese Grand Prix in early April.

Mercedes eventually abandoned its ‘zero sidepod’ concept after five races last season, but Red Bull is willing to give the approach – or something similar – another shot.

“They [Mercedes] were also convinced by the data of their sidepod-less concept, but in practice, it didn't work at all,” Marko said, speaking to Servus TV earlier this week.

“We will now see in the tests whether we can successfully implement this solution, or let's say a similar solution.

“Adrian Newey always favoured cars without radiators. But of course, the engine people can't do that. That is logical.”

Marko suggested that Red Bull’s take on the creative sidepod solution won’t be as extreme as Mercedes’ concept.

“We don't have it as extreme [as Mercedes], but we have it in a similar direction in terms of the idea,” the Austrian added.

“It's more than an evolution. It's a small revolution.

"It is the basis of what will be used in 2024. In terms of simulation and the wind tunnel, it all worked very well."

Red Bull's decision is a calculated gamble. If successful, it could propel its RB20 ahead of the pack once again.

However, failure could leave them scrambling for solutions while rivals capitalize on their misstep.

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