Formula 1 Racing

How exposed is Red Bull’s F1 campaign to its kerb and bump weakness?

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

After the challenges of Miami, Imola and Monaco where the clear weakness of the RB20 in dealing with bumps and kerbs was made evident, it is little wonder that the world champion has spent time in Red Bull’s simulator since the last race trying to work through things ahead of what could be another tough outing.

The key to a quick lap around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is to smash it across the kerbs – especially at the high-speed chicanes. But, as Red Bull has found out to its cost recently, this is something that its 2024 F1 car does not especially like.

Red Bull has not yet offered a clear explanation for just why it is suffering so much on kerbs and bumps, but the best educated guess so far is that it is a consequence of the team having been so aggressive with its aero developments that it has perhaps cornered itself in with its set-up window when it comes to needing mechanical compromises.

Few have any doubts that the RB20 still has a clear edge over the opposition on a billiard-smooth track that has high aero demands and requires a car to look after its rear tyres. It is hard to imagine anyone other than Red Bull dominating the Spanish Grand Prix later this month, for example.

But not all tracks are like that, and it appears that when Red Bull needs to lift the car up a little to compensate for bumps and kerbs, then it falls out of its ideal set-up window.

Key now, going forward, is how Red Bull can address its performance relative to the opposition when that rear ride height needs to be lifted up – especially as both of its closest rivals McLaren and Ferrari have made notable gains in this area with recent upgrades. For if Red Bull’s compromises are locked in, then that offers hope to the opposition of making a fight of things. 

But how much opportunity is there in reality, based on the way the rest of the season shapes up?

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Francois Tremblay

How the calendar shakes out

If we look at the remaining races, it is possible to group the tracks into those venues that could be more difficult for Red Bull because they require good low-speed performance, either because of the nature of the corners or the presence of bumps/kerbs.

Equally, there are some venues where the RB20’s aerodynamic advantage will come into its own and leave McLaren and Ferrari with little hope of the win.

And interestingly, the split seems pretty equal.

Those venues where Red Bull’s…

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