Red Bull chief Adrian Newey shows true colours after catching F1 rivals off guard

Max Verstappen dominated the first day of testing at the Bahrain International Circuit.



Adrian Newey has once again proven his engineering genius by explaining Red Bull’s decision to drastically change last year’s dominant F1 car. To many people’s surprise, the RB20 sported the same new features during pre-season testing in Bahrain that it did at last week’s launch.



Former F1 strategy engineer Bernie Collins was convinced that Red Bull had unveiled a ‘dummy car’ last week in an attempt to throw off their rivals. Nobody could lay a glove on them in 2023 as Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez won all bar one of the season’s Grands Prix between them.


Even so, chief technical officer Newey took the bold decision to head in a different direction ahead of the upcoming campaign. The RB20 dons vertical sidepod inlets and a bulging cooling arrangement in major changes to last year’s machine.


The 65-year-old has a stellar reputation in the paddock, and his justification for the bold approach underlines exactly why Red Bull have got their hands on an indispensable asset.


“We knew that everyone else was going to copy our car from last year,” Newey told Auto Motor und Sport. “If we had only focussed on further development, we would have been vulnerable.”


Red Bull’s plan to stay one step ahead of their rivals has so far paid off. Verstappen wiped the floor with his competitors on Wednesday, putting in a fastest lap more than one second quicker than the attempt of his nearest challenger, Lando Norris.


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Verstappen racked up 143 laps in Bahrain – more than any other driver – with George Russell next on the list. But the Mercedes star’s fastest lap was almost three seconds slower than the Dutchman’s as he threatens to run away with a fourth consecutive Drivers’ Championship.


“It’s nice to be back,” said Verstappen. “I think we had a really great day, a lot of laps and with the car we could try a few things. Very happy overall. Good to be back in an F1 car.


“It always surprises you a little bit, the first few laps you jump in, how quick it is compared to anything else. But yeah, I had good fun out there.”


There had been speculation that design guru Newey could jump ship, depending on the outcome of an ongoing investigation into team principal Christian Horner. But Newey has reportedly informed Red Bull that he intends to stay put no matter what.

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Gideon Canice

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