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Red Bull: Upgrades incoming to counter F1 rivals

Red Bull will bring upgrades to the RB20, as they work to combat the emerging threat from McLaren and Ferrari.

Three teams have taken victories in the first six rounds of 2024. This is something few would predicted a few months ago, when the RB20 began to flex its muscles in testing. Of course, Red Bull still leads the Championship and – for now – there is not enough evidence to dispute they have the best car. Nevertheless, the rapid development shown by McLaren and anticipated upgrades from Ferrari have changed the playing field. The reigning Champions must respond, and they intend to do so.

Competition in F1 becomes fiercer

Red Bull’s first upgrades of 2024 arrived quite early. A set of improvements were fitted to the RB20 in Japan, where Max Verstappen claimed his fourth victory of the season. Still, even whilst claiming victory, the growing speed elsewhere on the grid was becoming clearer.

Helmut Marko confirmed that the new parts worked precisely as intended. An estimated performance gain of two-tenths per lap, therefore, was unlocked almost immediately. However, Ferrari and McLaren were not a thousand miles away.

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This didn’t stop Verstappen from claiming Pole Position, of course. Nor did it particularly complicate his efforts on Sunday. Instead, the Italian and British squads proved something crucial – they were within touching distance of the team based in Milton Keynes. An effective update package could put these Championship-winning teams in contention once more.

Although conclusions cannot be made so soon, this scenario seems to be playing out already. McLaren unlocked approximately four-tenths of Miami with their set of improvements. Oscar Piastri, who did not have the luxury of the brand-new MCL38, still spent most of the race ahead of Perez and within grasp of Verstappen.

If Ferrari can make even a moderate improvement in Imola, Formula 1 could see three teams legitimately fighting for wins.

Red Bull working on developments

Of course, Red Bull is not sitting and waiting to be outdeveloped. According to German outlet AMuS, the Austrian outfit will have new parts in Imola, representing its second package of 2024.

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After enjoying such a massive advantage twelve months ago, Christian Horner’s team has slowly lost its advantage. To some degree, this is not a surprising development. When you’re leading the way, continuing to innovate and unlock more lap time is difficult. Teams further behind had the opportunity to learn from Red Bull and build upon their initial gains.

Still, the reigning Champions did not dominate last season by making excuses. With Adrian Newey on his way out, there will be a determination to prove they are capable of holding their own without the F1 technical genius.

Although their next upgrades are not expected to be revolutionary, they should provide incremental improvements. In such a competitive landscape, these finest of margins will make a difference.


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