Stella admits first glimpse of Red Bull RB20 caused big ‘wow’

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McLaren team boss Andrea Stella says his initial reaction to seeing Red Bull’s new RB20 was a simple “wow” as he was impressed by the audacity of the team’s 2024 design.

The extensive modifications implemented by Red Bull have come as a surprise to many competitors given the level of dominance enjoyed by its all-conquering predecessor, the RB19.

While most teams focused on analyzing and replicating to a certain extent the elements that contributed to Red Bull's success in 2023, the Milton Keynes-based outfit itself has taken a divergent approach.

This unexpected move has left rivals scrambling to understand and potentially counter Red Bull's new direction, potentially shifting the competitive landscape of the upcoming season.

“I have to say when I saw the car, I was like, ‘Wow, they certainly were brave in changing some of the shapes that made that car so successful last year,’” said Stella, quoted by

“I think they could enjoy such an advantage last year that it gave them confidence from a timeline point of view to take some risks, because you can take these risks early on to actually see whether it works.

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“What I would say, though, is that while there is innovation, that we can see macroscopically, like I've said already, in these regulations a lot is in millimetres. And a lot happens in work we don't see between the underneath of the car and the ground.”

At the end of last year, both Stella and McLaren racing boss Zak Brown voiced concerns about Red Bull's potential for a major leap in 2024 due to their ability to dedicate more resources to development throughout the 2023 season, not needing to focus heavily on upgrades for the RB19.

It now looks like the fears expressed earlier by McLaren’s top brass were warranted.

"I would say there are two elements,” continued Stella. “First of all car design, there's some element of significant evolution on that car that certainly required time to be developed.

“And I think this is the time that we were referring to Zak and myself, in terms of like Red Bull not having developed last year parts that were introduced on the 2023 car.

“And the second element is performance itself. It looks like they are very strong. So it looks like what they wanted to achieve from a design point of view also delivered what I would say predominantly seems to be aerodynamic performance."

While Stella is hopeful of McLaren being able to sustain this year the development momentum it enjoyed last season, the Italian acknowledged that catching Red Bull remains a challenge as their own development rate might be just as strong.

“Let's say what we have seen in our own development is that we seem to be able to keep the gradient of development that we started last year and that led us to the Austria, Singapore and the launch car development,” he said.

“So if we keep this development, I can't say we're going to get there, but I become more optimistic that we can be in a competitive position. Obviously, if Red Bull keep developing at the same level, we're never going to meet them.

“The important thing is that you can actually keep this development over time. And in our own journey, if you think, in our end journey - at least after the technical reassessment, reorganisation of the team - we are not even 12 months in.

“So it's a relatively short journey from this point of view, but I'm encouraged with what I see coming from a development point of view. Hopefully we can have it on the MCL38 in the early races of the season.”

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