Red Bull believes it will not be easy for rivals to copy the underbody design of its F0rmula 1 car, despite it being unintentionally revealed at Monaco last weekend.
The way the marshals recover crashed cars on the narrow street circuit – by lifting them with cranes rather than on the back of flatbed trucks – meant that the undersides of several cars were on full display after incidents.
Just hours after the underside of the Mercedes W14 was revealed following a crash by Lewis Hamilton in final practice, the same thing happened to Red Bull a little later in qualifying when Sergio Perez crashed the RB19.
With Red Bull currently setting the pace in F1, their underbody design will have been of great interest to their rivals as they try to work out why the Milton Keynes team are so far ahead at the moment.
But while the findings will help the competition, Red Bull Motorsport consultant Helmut Marko believes others will struggle to replicate what his team has achieved. “Of course we don’t like it,” says Marko of the exposed underbody.
“The underbody is very important, but if you don’t have the other parts and all the underlying concepts, it’s not so easy. And the Mercedes car was hanging in the air even longer. But I don’t think anyone was as interested in the Mercedes ground as people were in our car.”
Marko: It’s not just about the floor
Marko believes that knowledge of the underbody isn’t worth much if rivals don’t know how the Red Bull’s front wing and diffuser work to control airflow. “It’s not just about the floor,” stresses the Red Bull motorsport consultant.
“It has to work with the front wing and the rear. So it’s all those things together, and it’s much more complex than just the floor.”
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner also says that while the pictures of the floor are new to the public, the competition probably already has spy photos of it. “It’s very rude to look up people’s skirts,” he jokes of the pictures of the Red Bull underside in Monaco.
Horner knows “It’s common practice”.
“Pictures of bottoms are taken in and around the paddock. They arrive in vans, you work with the cars, the shutters are up and so on, and every team hires spy photographers to take pictures of the cars when they are in pieces. It’s common practice.
“So I wouldn’t have thought it was the first time a picture had been taken of the underbody. It was probably the first time it was hung from a crane, but all the teams are always looking for this kind of information.