Newey says ‘more subtle bits’ rather than Mercedes-like design elements key to RB20’s strengths

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 07: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull

Red Bull tech chief Adrian Newey insists that more “subtle” elements of the RB20 design are actually the key to its gains in performance, rather than the particularly noticeable visual changes that have drawn attention given the change in concept from its predecessor.

The world champions surprised many when they unveiled a very different-looking car at the launch of their 2024 challenger, with the RB20 having adopted a change in aerodynamic philosophy that gives the car a similar look to Mercedes’ 'zero sidepod' concept of 2022.

READ MORE: 'It's 88 missed podiums!' – Verstappen reflects on 100th F1 rostrum appearance as he praises ‘fantastic’ Bearman

While the change in appearance is clear, Newey explained to the F1 Nation podcast team that in fact the parts of the car that can’t be seen are perhaps more important in terms of performance.

The legendary designer said of the RB20: “The underlying architecture of the car is the third-generation evolution of what started as the RB18, where, apart from the radiators, we carry everything: layout of the front suspension, the rear suspension, the gearbox, the casing – it's a third evolution of the RB18.

“The bits that are visible, that have caused quite a lot of attention, obviously we’re pursuing aerodynamic gains there. The visual change is actually much larger than the performance change you get from that. The other, much more subtle bits that people haven't noticed are probably responsible for a bigger gain.”

This feature is currently not available because you need to provide consent to functional cookies. Please update your

The RB19 proved to be a dominant force in the 2023 season, with Max Verstappen clinching a record-breaking 19 victories at the wheel of the car en route to his third world championship, while Sergio Perez’s additional two wins meant that Red Bull won all but one race.

That win-less weekend happened in Singapore, where Carlos Sainz took P1 for Ferrari. In response, Newey says that the team have focused on trying to maximise performance at the circuits where they were not as strong last year.

SUNDAY MORNING DEBRIEF: Why Ferrari's deficit to Red Bull was halved in Saudi Arabia

“What we’ve tried to achieve is a car that is reasonably well-suited to all circuits,” commented Newey. “I think typically, last year, the circuits that we had less of an advantage on were the maximum downforce street tracks.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 22: Adrian Newey, the Chief Technical Officer of Oracle Red Bull Racing

Newey believes that the performance gains of the RB20 are due to more subtle elements of its design

“Singapore, obviously, we famously made a bit of a mess of and underperformed to what we could have achieved. We could have certainly achieved podiums there had we got our act together a bit better.

“But it's certainly true to say that those circuits are the ones that we probably have less advantage on. As long as we're not disastrous on them, then maybe that's good enough.”

READ MORE: Perez admits error that sparked penalty as he reflects on ‘chaotic’ race to P2 in Saudi Arabia

To listen to F1 Nation, hit go on the audio player above or click here to listen via your preferred podcasting provider.

Want to get your question answered by the F1 Nation gang on a future episode? Simply record it as a voice note and email it to



Coming Up

Coming Up

FeatureF1 Unlocked

PRACTICE DEBRIEF: Do on-form Ferrari really have Red Bull on the back foot at Imola?