Explained: The shock resemblance between RB20 and last year’s Mercedes

Certain design features of the RB20 design are reminiscent to last year's Mercedes F1 car.

Red Bull's RB20 F1 car
Red Bull's RB20 F1 car

Red Bull raised eyebrows with the launch of their 2024 F1 car as immediate comparisons to last year’s Mercedes were made.

The RB20 was officially presented on Thursday at their Milton Keynes headquarters, but much of the attention of the assembled media was on team principal Christian Horner as he made his first public appearance since allegations of inappropriate behaviour were made against him.

Prior to facing questions (albeit limited ones) about the ongoing investigation, Horner said Red Bull had “pushed the boundaries” with the design of their latest F1 car.

"There’s some great innovation in the car as well and it will no doubt get scrutinised over the coming weeks," Horner said.

"Creativity has been strong in the team and you can see that in some of the solutions that they’ve come up with. It’s not a conservative evolution. There’s some real innovation on the car."

One particularly eye-catching feature of the RB20 - first spotted on grainy spy footage from its shakedown at Silverstone two days prior to the launch - was the similarities to a concept devised by one of the team’s biggest F1 rivals.

Rather surprisingly, Red Bull have seemingly moved away from a design trend they started - and that some teams are only just picking up on - when new aerodynamic regulations were first introduced in 2022.

The vertical sidepod inlet shape on the RB20 is reminiscent of the original Mercedes W14 concept, while it also features a similar bulbous bodywork and engine cover cooling arrangement.

During a group interview with Max Verstappen, it was put to the reigning world champion that there were certain “Mercedes style” designs on the RB20.

Max Verstappen and the RB20
Max Verstappen and the RB20

The Dutchman responded with a smirk: "I would still call it a Red Bull style. But I know what you mean!”

Teammate Sergio Perez praised Red Bull for being “brave” in their approach.

“It just shows the hunger that we have,” he added. “We have such a dominant car last year that you wouldn't expect us to change the concept that much. I think it is really brave from Red Bull to do.”

When asked about the comparisons to Mercedes’ W14, Horner said: "It's not tactical, it's based on performance and what we're seeing through our simulation tools.

"Obviously the car looks quite visibly different in certain areas to last year. Only the stopwatch will tell but in the virtual world we wouldn't have committed it to design if we didn't feel it was better."

Verstappen, who revealed he first saw drawings of the RB20 in Abu Dhabi last year, hailed Red Bull’s design, saying it is “what I like about the team”.

"I'm quite happy with I think the direction that they chose,” Verstappen said. “I saw the drawings I think in Abu Dhabi, the last race, I was like, wow, that's quite different in a way. They've not been conservative, let's say like that.

“I think what I like about the team is that we had a great package, but they took the chance to really go all out, I would say and try to make it better.

“Of course, time will tell if it's really, really good. But from what I see within the team everyone is just happy with what they have achieved in the winter. But then again, we don't know. We can't control what the other people did.”

Asked if the team needed to be ‘so aggressive’ in their design approach given their recent dominance, Verstappen hit back: "I think it's controlled aggressiveness.”

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