Red Bull Racing, the dominant force in the 2023 Formula 1 season with a string of victories, faced an unexpected setback during the Singapore Grand Prix. For the first time since the 2018 Russian Grand Prix, they failed to get one of their cars into Q3, and their race performance also fell short of the podium. Many speculated that two recent FIA rules clarifications, TD18 and an updated TD39, related to flexible body parts, played a role in their struggles. However, Red Bull’s team boss, Christian Horner, dismissed these claims, stating that the new directives had “zero” impact on their car.
Flexible Wings and the Skid Block Holes
TD18 primarily addressed flexible wings and the efforts of teams to conceal moveable mechanisms and clever designs within them. This directive aimed to curb any unfair advantages gained through these hidden tricks. Simultaneously, an updated version of TD39 targeted potential tricks involving the flexibility of the floor around the skid block holes. Some teams were suspected of exploiting this flexibility to bring their cars closer to the ground at high speeds without wearing out the components excessively.
Despite these rule changes aligning with Red Bull’s sudden dip in performance, Horner was quick to reject the idea that they were the cause. He emphasized that they hadn’t made any adjustments to their car as a result of the new FIA stance, saying, “There’s no silver bullets in this business. I know all of you would love to blame the TD, but unfortunately, we can’t even blame that because it’s not changed a single component on our car.”
The Real Culprit: Setup and Simulation
Instead of attributing their struggles to the TDs, Horner pointed to setup issues as the root cause. He explained that they misjudged their car’s operating window during Friday practice, leading to poor performance in qualifying. “We knew coming here it would be expected to have closer competition,” Horner said. “But I think it took us a bit by surprise, just how far out we were on Friday. When you’re not there, then the tyres feel horrible. Everything just doesn’t work.”
He also mentioned that the problem might be traced back to pre-weekend simulation runs, which didn’t provide an accurate picture of the car’s performance on the resurfaced track. To add to the complexity, Red Bull introduced a new floor update, which they later removed for qualifying due to uncertainty about its impact.
“I think that maybe our simulation before the weekend didn’t lead us to the right conclusion,” Horner admitted. “Then you have to sort of unravel your way out of that. I think we just ended up in the wrong window and it exposed some of our weaknesses that the car has.”
Lessons for the Future
While this setback was undoubtedly disappointing for Red Bull, Horner found a silver lining. He considered it a valuable lesson for the team, providing insights and highlighting areas for improvement in their upcoming RB20 car.
One of Red Bull’s strengths has been its ability to maintain a stable aero platform at various speeds and its effective ride control, allowing the car to run close to the ground at high speeds. However, this setup may have its limitations on bumpy tracks, as witnessed at the Belgian Grand Prix when drivers had to back off through Eau Rouge to prevent excessive bottoming out.
In conclusion, Red Bull’s Singapore struggles were not the result of the new FIA directives but rather a combination of setup issues, inaccurate simulations, and the complexities of adapting to a resurfaced track. Despite the disappointment, Red Bull sees this as a learning experience that will benefit them in the future. The team remains optimistic as they look ahead to the challenges of the next season.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Singapore Grand Prix Qualifying
Q: Did the new FIA rules, TD18 and TD39, cause Red Bull’s struggles in Singapore?
A: No, the new FIA rules, TD18 and TD39, had “zero” impact on Red Bull’s performance in Singapore. According to Christian Horner, the team’s boss, they did not make any changes to their car as a result of these directives.
Q: What was the actual reason behind Red Bull’s poor qualifying performance in Singapore?
A: The primary reason for Red Bull’s struggles in qualifying was a setup issue. They misjudged their car’s operating window during Friday practice, leading to poor performance. Additionally, simulation runs before the weekend did not accurately represent the car’s performance on the resurfaced track.
Q: Did Red Bull introduce any new components or updates to their car for the Singapore Grand Prix?
A: Yes, Red Bull introduced a new floor update for the Singapore Grand Prix. However, they decided to remove it for qualifying due to uncertainty about its impact on their car’s performance.
Q: Did the track resurfacing in Singapore play a role in Red Bull’s difficulties?
A: Yes, the track resurfacing in Singapore posed challenges for Red Bull. It changed the nature of the circuit’s bumps and grip levels, which may have contributed to their struggles in finding the right setup for their car.
Q: What lessons did Red Bull take away from their performance in Singapore?
A: Red Bull viewed their Singapore Grand Prix difficulties as a valuable lesson. It provided insights into their car’s weaknesses and areas for improvement, which they plan to address in their upcoming RB20 car.