Pierre Wache, the Technical Director at Red Bull Racing, says the technical regulations forced the majority of the changes to the RB16B ahead of the new season, but there were also some upgrades elsewhere that will hopefully mean a more competitive 2021 compared to 2020.
Red Bull finished a distant second in the Constructors’ Championship last year, taking only two wins with Max Verstappen in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Wache says the FIA’s regulation changes have dictated some of the changes to the car from last year, with the introduction of a budget cap also having a big effect on the team. It means the team has to work more efficiently so they maximise the resources at their disposal.
“What is new for 2021? That’s a small question but a big answer!” said Wache. “We have a lot of carryover this year, by regulation the main structure of the car didn’t change and we, like all teams, have used parts from last year hence the name RB16B.
“2021 also sees lots of technical rule changes, the FIA changed some parts of the aero regulations to reduce the load of the car, included changes on the floor, on the rear brake ducts and some small adjustments on the barge boards.
“On top of that, F1 now has a budget cap. That has a massive effect on the sport and the front running teams. The way we work and the way we develop the car has to be more efficient in all areas of the business.”
Wache has previously worked alongside new Red Bull driver Sergio Pérez when was making his debut in the sport with the Sauber F1 Team, and the Technical Director says he values the Mexican’s feedback.
“We value Sergio’s feedback a lot,” he said. “I worked with him when he started Formula 1 in the Sauber team. His feedback and his capacity to drive the car, especially in long runs; how he’s managing very well the pace and reducing the degradation.
“Clearly his current feedback on the handling of the car, and the experience he had with a completely different car concept previously was valuable for us and interesting to understand.”
“We try to have some minor updates for Race One”
Wache says the development of the RB16B continued straight after the conclusion of the pre-season test, and he is expecting some minor updates to appear on the car for the Bahrain Grand Prix despite just eleven days between the race weekend and the end of the test.
“Honestly, the process of development for FP1 in Bahrain starts after Day One of the test,” said Wache. “We don’t wait for the session to end on Sunday. We tested many parts throughout the three days and tried to understand what is working and what is not working with the car.
“We guide the process of development in terms of direction, and we try to have some minor updates for Race One. We also have the drivers working in the simulator to correlate with the track and see how we can improve the situation with the tools we have inside the car, or in our set-up, to help us achieve a better balance.
“When you see something perform a certain way on track and you say ‘oh, I can fix that’’, go to the simulator, make changes on the mechanical side and see if it helps or not.”
Wache believes the updated Honda power unit and an enhanced fuel from ExxonMobil has given Red Bull a boost over the winter, but only be when the season starts in earnest will the team know whether its given them a competitive edge over their main rivals.
“On the full car dyno we use, we see already some early signs of performance gain compared to last year,” he said. “I think it is a combination of the engine development plus the ExxonMobil fuel.
“I’m sure all teams and power units have made gains so we do not know if it put us ahead of anyone at this stage but we are very grateful for the work our partners have put in over the winter. Now we can only hope that the combination with the RB16B chassis is strong enough to take on the best in this engineering race.”