FIA suspicions of RB19 “serious”

When a Formula One car is uber dominant over all its rivals, the default position is to believe the team are doing something illegal. The speed at which the F1 teams car designs converge following an FIA rule change is quite remarkable and so for Red Bull Racing to be even further ahead of the field then they were at the start of 2022 is even more shocking.

In days of yore the FIA was under resourced in its technical department and relied on the F1 teams to police each other. A team would “protest” another car design and provide the FIA with sufficient evidence for them to investigate extensively.



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Under the presidency of Jean Todt, the FIA has built up a technical team more than capable of scurineeting the cars properly and further the officials now are capable of running complex simulations to understand the extent of any proposed regulation changes.

However, it has always been rare that F1’s governing body would repeatedly require a single competitors car to be tested and retested over the course of a season. Yet Red Bull are now revealing that the FIA has been suspicious of their RB19 car week in and week out.

Over the years the FIA have uncovered numerous examples of trickery and illegal practices one of which was the secret second fuel tank run the the BAR team in 2005. BAR received a two race ban when their appeal was thrown out.

Brabham’s Nelson Piquet and Williams’ Keke Rosberg finished first and second in 1982’s Brazilian Grand Prix but the cars were protested having dispersed water to cool the brakes during the race – and so were disqualified from the results after the FIA sought to put an end to the practice. 

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FIA punish teams for infringements

In 1993 the FIA banned a whole host of driver aids but Bennetton were reported for an alleged infringement. Option 13 was found in the computer management system which when armed to allowed the driver to manage a start with a single action.

Benetton argued that it was only used for testing purposes, and required a lengthy start-up process to get it to work, but the FIA found that it could be activated via a laptop plugged into the car. The driver would then have to enable it with a certain sequence of steering wheel inputs, much like a video game cheat code.

However , Benetton escaped sanction as the FIA could not prove they had used the driver aid in a race.

Since the big rule change of 2022 where the FIA forced the teams to ditch some bodywork aerodynamics to make it easier for cars to follow each other, Red Bull have ruled the roost.

The bottom line is Red Bull’s underfloor design is superior to the rest of the teams creating more downforce which means they are less reliant on the traditional methods of making the car stable through the corners.

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Hamilton fingers Red Bull DRS

This explains why the world champion team’s DRS has been so powerful, something that many in the field have questioned. 

Lewis Hamilton highlighted the issue following this season’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. There Max Verstappen had started just fifteenth after technical problems with his RB19 in qualifying.

However, the world champion made light work of making his way through the field including his pass on Hamilton and Russell on his way to clinch second place.

Lewis was asked after the race whether it was a concern that the Red Bull was so far ahead of his team, he replied: “I don’t know it’s not for me to say, but I’ve never seen a car so fast.

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FIA forced to conduct “100’s of tests”

“When we were fast we weren’t that fast. That’s the fastest car I’ve seen compared to the rest, I don’t know why or how but he came past me with serious speed.

“I didn’t even bother to block because there was a massive speed difference,” Hamilton concluded.

The Mercedes driver was shocked at the speed differential between his W14 and Verstappen’s RB19 when the DRS was open. This then led to months of speculation Reed Bull were doing something outside the regulations given no other team could understand how this was possible.

This forced the FIA to conduct “hundreds of tests” on the RB19 as the team’s technical Pierre Wache now reveals. Yet despite this highly unusual level of FIA scrutiny, the RB19 has been certified as compliant.

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Red Bull surprised others haven’t caught on

Wache is surprised that it has taken the rival teams so long to work out how Red Bull can deliver this performance. 

“What is crazy is that the people speak about that two years after we introduced it,” Wache told

“We have had hundreds of tests from the FIA to check if we had a trick of whatever, and the people [even recently] don’t understand why, on the very high downforce tracks, the advantage disappears.

“Okay [it means] they still don’t understand then. That very much surprises us.”

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Triple DRS not the Red Bull key

Gary Anderson former F1 car designer has long claimed the Red Bull exceptional DRS is comprised of three elements all working in perforce harmony: The rear diffuser, the beam wing and the rear wing itself. Anderson called it the “triple DRS.”

Yet there is one more important factor that means Red Bull can operate these three important pieces of aero bodywork in perfect balance.

Due to their underfloor design which delivers way more downforce than their rivals its car is inherently more stable at the rear than the competition. This means Red Bull can run a much smaller beam wing than the rest and it is this component of the three that reduces the drag more significantly.

Now the rear wing becomes the largest of the three DRS elements that creates the most drag, so when opened it dumps more air resistance creating such high top speeds.

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Red Bull delivered better on FIA brief

However at circuits where top levels of downforce is required, Red Bull run a bigger beam wing and so their advantage is reduced – as was the case in Hungary when Lewis Hamilton managed to out qualify Max Verstappen over a single lap.

So it is simplistic as some F1 commentators suggest to expect the rest of the field to simply copy the Red Bull beam wing and rear wing configuration because first they need the stability from the mysterious air flows under the floor of the car.

Simply put. Red Bull have delivered the kind of aero balance and less over the top of the car drag that the FIA intended when introducing the regulations. Its now for the rest of the field to work out how to emulate the world champions – which as a by product will make overtaking easier.

Despite Mercedes efforts in 2022 to bounce the FIA into changing the underfloor specification in an attempt to disrupt Red Bull, the revised rules as requested by Mercedes see Red Bull even more dominant this season. They clearly have a far superior downforce package under their floor than Mercedes have yet come close to discovering.

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McLaren admits copying Red Bull

McLaren team boss Andreas Stella believes Red Bull’s advantage will persist for some time to come. “They seem to have pursued this concept for some time,” explained Stella

“So, I think they may be taking some advantage from having a lot of experience in developing this kind of configuration. I think this has now become apparent over time.

“We are, I think all teams now, trying to see what is possible to exploit by developing this kind of direction.”

McLaren of course made a leap towards the front of the chasing pack at the three races before the Sumer break. Their car – whilst no more drivable or better balanced – has added significant points of downforce which explains their one lap pace and performance during the Grand Prix.

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Red Bull margin to improve reducing

While the rest of the field are playing catch up Red Bull have been on with refining their design for 2024 and the current gap to the rest of the best suggests whatever they do will keep them ahead of their rivals for another season. 

The gap at present is too large for a team to close with next year’s new car but the margins by which the world champions can improve their design will eventually diminish as the likes of McLaren Ferrari, Aston Martin and Mercedes discover how to deliver better underfloor downforce.

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One response to “FIA suspicions of RB19 “serious”

  1. Pingback: Red Bull reveal FIA tested RB19 “100’s of times” - Formula Bull·

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