F1 News: Red Bull Chief Confronts Suspension Issues After Problem Arises

Red Bull's team principal, Christian Horner, is actively addressing the RB20's suspension issues to maintain aerodynamic efficiency while improving the car's ability to handle bumps and kerbs on the track.
May 4, 2024; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Crew members push the car of Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen (1) back to the paddock  after the F1 Sprint Race at Miami International Autodrome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
May 4, 2024; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Crew members push the car of Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen (1) back to the paddock after the F1 Sprint Race at Miami International Autodrome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports / John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

In the world of Formula 1, small changes in engineering and setup can bring harsh realities on-track, a truth that Red Bull Racing faces with their RB20 car at the Monaco and Canadian Grand Prix. Team Principal Christian Horner has openly addressed issues impacting their performance, specifically the car's handling over kerbs and bumps—an issue that first became noticeable during the legendary race in the principality and persisted, though diminished, at Montreal.

At the core of the RB20's challenges is an intense battle between aerodynamics and suspension dynamics. With a solid focus since 2022 on ground-effect aerodynamics, the Milton Keynes machinery can create large amounts of downforce by maintaining stiffer suspension settings. After all, the less the car moves vertically, the more stable the floor of the car is in comparison to the track surface. The sacrifice here is the mechanical grip that can be produced using a more compliant suspension setup. Softer suspension would also allow the car to be more stable over kerbs where the car needs movement in the suspension to be able to absorb the bumps.

This is something the team has been struggling with on tracks that necessitate a softer suspension due to an uneven track surface, or in the case of Monaco and Canada, a racing line that involves taking plenty of kerb.

Despite these hurdles, Red Bull is not sitting idle. The team is actively strategizing solutions to retain their aerodynamic gains while improving the car's suspension compliance. Horner remains optimistic about striking this delicate balance effectively. Speaking about the adjustments needed, Horner said:

“All of it has to work in tandem, so you are pushing the aerodynamic platform of the car, but you want the car to ride kerbs.”

This resilience was on full display in the Canadian Grand Prix.

“What was encouraging was that our sector three this weekend was competitive, even with the stiffness of the car rattling over that last chicane." He further noted, “If you look throughout the running, we were very competitive there. So, despite it being uncomfortable, we were still able to be quick enough.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull’s leading driver, echoed this sentiment, noting the progress made in handling the car under less-than-ideal conditions.

“The last few races have been quite difficult, but not only just difficult, too many problems as well, throughout the whole weekend. So we need to have a cleaner weekend,” he admitted.

“We're struggling a lot with the kerbing and the bumps. So we definitely have an area we can work on and definitely improve the car by quite a big margin if we get that under control.”

“I really think that we can solve this without influencing any other part of the car,” he explained. “We know that this is a weakness and I also know that we are flat out working on it to try and fix it, because I really feel like it's quite a big performance limitation for us at the moment.

“Naturally, I'm also looking forward to some tracks maybe where we don't really need to take too many kerbs or too many bumps.

“You can see already, every weekend so far, some teams are a bit stronger at particular tracks, and I guess that in a way, of course, makes it also very exciting.”

Red Bull's ongoing efforts to address the RB20’s suspension issues without compromising its aerodynamic efficiency point to an adaptive and resilient approach in their racing strategy. As the season progresses, how they manage this balance could very well influence their dominance in the Formula 1 championships, continuing to challenge the limits of car engineering and race strategy.


Published
Alex Harrington

ALEX HARRINGTON

Alex is the editor-in-chief of F1 editorial. He fell in love with F1 at the young age of 7 after hearing the scream of naturally aspirated V10s echo through his grandparents' lounge. That year he watched as Michael Schumacher took home his fifth championship win with Ferrari, and has been unable to look away since.