Motor racing-Red Bull's new car may have moved the goalposts again

Formula One F1 - Red Bull launch - Milton Keynes, Britain - February 15, 2024 General view of the new Red Bull F1 car during the launch REUTERS/Alan Baldwin/ File photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One teams will go testing with some trepidation in Bahrain next week amid fears Red Bull may have again stolen a march with an aggressive evolution of the most dominant car of all time.

The champions' launch of their 2024 challenger, the RB20, on Thursday will not have provided much comfort for rivals still playing catch up from last season when Red Bull won 21 of 22 races.

"I think there will be a few other teams' technical departments going 'holy s***', where do we go from here?," commented former Jordan, Stewart and Jaguar designer Gary Anderson on

Red Bull's triple world champion Max Verstappen said his reaction on seeing the first drawings at the end of last season was "Wow, that's quite different".

The main focus concerned the new-look Red Bull sidepods, now with tall and slim vertical radiator inlets that looked similar to those attempted and abandoned by former champions Mercedes last season.

Team principal Christian Horner said the car was an evolution of the RB19 but acknowledged it was not conservative and contained real innovation.

He said the changes were driven by performance based on simulation tools.

"You can see they've been quite aggressive in certain areas and still pushing the boundaries, conscious that our opponents are still going to be pushing very hard," he said at the presentation.

"Some of the detail on the car is absolutely exquisite."

Star designer Adrian Newey said the team had made improvements to all areas -- mechanical, vehicle dynamics and aerodynamics.

"Is that enough? Who knows. That's the thing about Formula One," he said.

"We know roughly what we've done from the shakedown at Silverstone, from what we can tell it's behaved as we expect it to but that's no guarantee of anything. It could be that some other team has made a bigger jump than us.

"Last year's car really was a total surprise in terms of its dominance."

The fear is that Red Bull may have moved to another level of development while rivals, some of whom have said openly that they consider the champions to be beatable, launched cars clearly influenced by the RB19.

"I believe we've made some good steps in the right direction so it should be another great season for the team," said Red Bull's Mexican Sergio Perez.

Teams have three days of testing in Bahrain from Feb 21-23 before the opening race on March 2.

"It's a bit like waiting for Christmas. It is exciting," said Mercedes technical director James Allison of the pre-season 'phoney war' period and the uneasy mix of anticipation and trepidation.

"You want it to arrive, and you want the days to fly by. You also know that the Christmas Day opening of those presents might not bring you all the good fortune you wish for.

"It’s not a relaxing time of year, but it is very exhilarating."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)

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