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EXCLUSIVE: Red Bull’s Pierre Wache on the team’s 2024 – ‘We didn't do an amazing job last year’

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Greg Stuart
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In his role as Technical Director of Red Bull Racing, last year saw Pierre Wache oversee the most dominant season in the history of Formula 1. But the Frenchman believes there’s still more to come from his team in 2024…

The statistics behind Red Bull’s phenomenal on-track performance in 2023 have been trotted out repeatedly since the curtain came down on the season in Abu Dhabi – but bear repeating here.

READ MORE: Verstappen singles out 'crazy' race in 2023 that ‘could have gone so wrong’

Red Bull, with the RB19 machine created under Wache’s watch, won 21 out of 22 races in 2023 – Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz (set to be replaced by Lewis Hamilton at the team for 2025) the only non-Red Bull winner last year.

In Max Verstappen’s hands, the Dutchman was able to use the RB19 to claim 19 out of those 22 race wins en route to his third straight drivers’ title. It allowed him, too, to lead 1,003 out of the 1,325 Grand Prix laps (76%), with the team claiming a full 860 points in the constructors’ standings – the most ever scored in a season – and taking their first ever one-two in the standings to boot.

All of that success makes what Wache says, when asked about the success of Red Bull in 2023, all the more surprising.

“We did a good job – but we didn't do an amazing job,” says the Frenchman, with no hint of irony.

“I think we identified multiple weaknesses in [RB]18” – Red Bull’s previously-dominant car in 2022 – “and we pushed for [the RB19] to solve them. We didn't solve all of them, but fortunately the team were able to reduce the weaknesses we had and be able to deliver on track.”

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Record-breaking Red Bull Racing seal the constructors’ championship in Japan

Wache, too, is convinced that Red Bull’s dominance wasn’t all of their own making – believing that several of the team’s key rivals slipped backwards in 2023.

“The strength of our car is also the weakness of the competitors, because I'm not sure we expected to be alone there,” he chuckles. “What I mean is, when you look at the lap time and the behaviour compared to [2022], some people went backwards more than forwards.

READ MORE: Newey admits to 'complete surprise' over recent Red Bull dominance

“I think it's also – and you see clearly with McLaren with the step they did – I think some people lost their way between [2022 and 2023], more than us [doing an amazing job].

“We did a good job – I don't dismiss what the team have done – but I think it's very relative in comparison. If some people were closer to us, you would say, 'Ah, you didn't have as good a car.' And that's what I mean.”

ZANDVOORT - Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) crosses the finish line to win the F1 Grand Prix of

The RB19 was the most dominant car in F1 history

'The problem is that the car has some weaknesses...'

One common storyline coming out of 2023 was the deficit between Verstappen and team mate Sergio Perez – Verstappen having scored enough points on his own to give Red Bull the constructors’ championship solo, and by a full 166 points no less.

Wache previously worked with Perez at Sauber in 2011 and 2012, before the pair were reunited when the Mexican joined Red Bull for 2021 – and by his own admission, he knows exactly how good Perez can be.

READ MORE: Mind games, cycling bans and more – Can Perez learn anything from when Rosberg beat Hamilton?

So why the deficit between Verstappen and Perez in 2023? Wache believes it was more of an engineering issue than a driving one.

“The problem is that the car has some weaknesses and it's how you deal with these weaknesses,” says Wache of the RB19. “And sometimes, it's not because you're worst or best [as a driver].

“Sometimes, a weakness, you cannot deal with it, and it's what we try to understand with Sergio, to make sure we give him the tool and the car to be able to cope with that. But you know, it's an engineer's job more than for him, I would say.”

LUSAIL CITY, QATAR - OCTOBER 06: Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing talks with

Wache believes it's Red Bull's job to make Perez more comfortable in their upcoming RB20

That said, Wache is unequivocal about the job Verstappen did with the RB19 in 2023 en route to that third straight drivers’ championship – calling the Dutchman “a big part of our success” while also revealing how Verstappen has evolved since joining the team as an 18-year-old midway through 2016.

“[Max has] improved in terms of consistency and maybe confidence in himself,” says Wache. “After, we also improved at the same time as him. With a driver, the main aspect is also to understand each other, to make sure that the vocabulary is clear between each other, and understand each other to make sure that we're able to deliver what he wants, and what he needs to be quick.

“He developed, he's more mature, for sure. He was young – very young – but his pace and his capacity to be quick and translate that on the track didn't change fundamentally.”

READ MORE: Perez admits it will be 'a challenge' to topple Verstappen and go for 2024 championship glory

He adds: “For sure, he’s a big part of our success, because he's the most talented driver, from my point of view. But he's also able to give feedback on the car for him to be quick and analyse very well what the car behaviour is doing and how to fix it.

“The technical aspect of a driver – you know, we don't want a driver to be an engineer, we want them to be a driver, and be able to feel and translate into words what he feels, and how to make the car quicker, and he's clearly massively able to do that. I rate him very [highly]. After, he's different from Sebastian [Vettel] or some other highly talented drivers we've worked with, but he's very technical.”

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Max Verstappen: The DNA of a Champion

The area Red Bull are pushing to improve

Attention now turns, of course, to the Red Bull RB20, the team slated to have the last launch of all on February 15.

With Red Bull having already moved to dampen expectations, talking of the anticipation of “diminishing returns” in 2024, Wache is nonetheless bullish in his believe that – despite the Red Bull RB19 eclipsing the records of previously dominant F1 cars like McLaren’s MP4/4 and Ferrari’s F2002 – the RB20 has plenty of scope for improvements over its predecessor.

READ MORE: The design features that made the Red Bull RB19 so special

“Ah yeah, for sure. For sure,” replies Wache when asked if he thought the team could take another performance step with the RB20.

“Max mentioned multiple times that our capacity on ride and kerbing and low-speed performance is not the best compared to some others. It's clearly the area where we are pushing to improve.”

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