Verstappen “happy” with Red Bull’s design choices regarding 2024 RB20 F1 car: “They took the chance to really go all out”

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The defending champions are heading into the 2024 season as the clear favourites, having enjoyed a dominant run the previous year, with Max Verstappen shattering records en route to his third consecutive championship.

Asked whether it’s possible for the team to top an already near-perfect 2023 season, Verstappen emphasised that Red Bull’s primary goal isn’t necessarily to outdo themselves, but rather to produce a highly competitive car. 

“Well, I mean, these kinds of things are very tough to top. I think it’s also not our goal,” he told the media.

“I think it’s just about trying to deliver another very competitive car, and from my side of course I’ll try to deliver the best I can. But that depends on a lot of things that have to come together, right?”

Verstappen added that he expects rival teams to make a step forward, potentially impacting Red Bull’s ability to win races as handily as they did last season.

“So I guess only time will tell, you know, how quick we are. And of course also around us, people are learning more and more.

“It’s not always that it’s up to us how great the season is going to be, because if you have more natural competition with different teams, it’s even harder to win races.”

The RB20 made its on-track debut earlier this week during a filming day shakedown at Silverstone, ahead of today’s official launch event.

Asked to share his first impression of driving the RB20, Verstappen joked, “Slippery, because it was wet and cold.”

He added that the shakedown was more about ensuring everything runs smoothly ahead of pre-season testing, rather than trying to gauge performance. 

“But everything was fine, you know, it’s literally just a filming day, the car started up well.

“It’s about, yeah, just making sure that once they put the car together that everything is running, because basically from there the car gets sent to Bahrain, and that’s where it really starts, you know.

“You really start to learn more about the car, you put a proper program together, you do a lot of different kind of running.”

The Dutch champion revealed that, despite Red Bull’s advantage over the rest of the field, the team didn’t simply settle for a conservative approach when it came to the design of the RB20. For his part, Verstappen confirmed that he’s pleased with the direction the technical team has taken, praising their commitment to pushing boundaries. 

“I’m quite happy with the direction that they chose. I mean I saw the drawings, I think Abu Dhabi, in Abu Dhabi the last race, and I was like, ‘wow, that’s quite different in a way’. And, yeah, they’ve not been conservative, let’s say it like that,” he said.

“I think what I like about the team is that, we had a great package, but they took the chance to really go all out I would say to try to make it better.

“Of course, time will tell if it’s really, really good, but, yeah, from what I see within the team, everyone is just happy with what they have achieved in the winter.

“But then again, we don’t know, we can’t control what the other people do.”

Asked whether he felt there was a need for such an aggressive design approach, considering the RB19 was already such a highly competitive package, Verstappen explained: “Well, I think it’s controlled aggressiveness.”

“So, yeah, everyone is just happy with what… it’s not a—it doesn’t seem like it’s a question mark, like, they’re not entirely sure, so.”

He added that he doesn’t believe the engine cover and side box on the RB20 were inspired by Mercedes’s design.

“No, I would still call it a Red Bull-style. But I know what you mean.”

As for the experience of driving the RB20 on the simulator and whether it resembles the RB19, Verstappen admitted that he hasn’t had a chance to extensively test the final package yet as things were being tweaked and worked on in the development process—but noted that he was pleased with the sim work he’s done so far.

“I haven’t really done a lot of, the total car, everything together, because it’s constantly like, you work on development bits, so I still need to do that a little bit more.

“But again, of course I prefer to always drive the car in real life first, a little bit more, to then have a more accurate feedback for the sim. But, so far, everyone has been happy with the sim driving as well.”