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Formula 1: Red Bull makes its next move

At least there is a lot to suggest that after the test drives in Sachir last week. “We’re all smiling a lot right now,” said Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko after the first laps of the year in Bahrain. The first impression of the RB20 was “very impressive,” emphasized the 80-year-old Styrian, who will be available to the racing team as a consultant for three more years until 2026 after his contract was extended around the turn of the year. “The concept works. It looks good.”

Red Bull surprised the competition with greatly narrowed sidepods (air inlets on the side boxes; note). It’s an approach that is very reminiscent of Mercedes’ approach in recent years. However, for two seasons the “Silver Arrows” failed to find a solution to the problems that had arisen. While many racing teams took an example from last season’s Red Bull car, star designer Adrian Newey and his team apparently made the next move.

IMAGO/EU Images Thanks to star designer Adrian Newey, Red Bull could be too fast for the competition this year too

“Risk” seems to be paying off

Before the test drives, Newey emphasized that Red Bull had made progress in all areas (mechanics, aerodynamics, vehicle dynamics). “Will that be enough? Who knows. But that’s the thing in Formula 1,” said the mastermind. For team boss Christian Horner it was obvious that some of the details on the car were “absolutely exquisite”. The changes were pushed after simulators predicted an increase in performance.

Although Marko spoke of a “risk”, the car always reacted exactly as expected when making changes during the tests. Fine tuning is now on the agenda. In any case, Verstappen is aiming for his fourth World Cup title in a row. After the record season in 2023, there is currently little to say against it due to the regulations only changing from 2026. “It seems like a car has taken a big leap. Unfortunately, it is the car that was the fastest last year,” said McLaren team boss Andrea Stella.

Verstappen: “The main thing is to be quick”

Last year, Verstappen completed an unrivaled 1,003 leading laps and won 19 races – ten of them in a row. The Dutchman was also happy with the new car again. “It’s quite interesting what they keep coming up with,” said the 26-year-old, but he concentrates on the essentials. “I trust everyone on the team to know what they are doing. That’s why I don’t care how they design the car, as long as it’s faster.”

It seems to be fast again, just like Verstappen himself. The World Cup dominator of the last few years hired a new fitness trainer, Rupert Manwaring, during the winter break. The Brit was most recently the “performance coach” of Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz for eight years, meaning the Spaniard lost a long-time companion. Verstappen had previously ended his collaboration with his own physiotherapist Bradley Scanes because he wanted to spend more time with his family after four years at the Dutchman’s side.

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