Perez ‘surprised’ as Red Bull debuts Mercedes-style element after similar design dubbed ‘extreme’ by Christian Horner

RED Bull’s Sergio Perez has been left “surprised” after the team debuted a new car design including a Mercedes-style element after a similar spec was previously dubbed “extreme” by team boss Christian Horner.

The Mexican driver hailed his team’s “bravery” after it unveiled its RB20 machine, which it hopes will bring yet more championship success in 2024.

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez has admitted being 'surprised' by the team's 'bold' new design


Red Bull driver Sergio Perez has admitted being ‘surprised’ by the team’s ‘bold’ new designCredit: Red Bull Content Pool
The RB20 has seemingly adopted elements of the 'zeropod' design used by Mercedes in 2022


The RB20 has seemingly adopted elements of the ‘zeropod’ design used by Mercedes in 2022Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Much of the attention is focussed on the new side pod design for the car, which has adopted a “zeropod”-style setup, similar to that first used by Mercedes two years ago.

Asked if he was surprised by the adoption of the design, Perez said: “Ah, yes. A bit.

“But at the same time, it just shows how much this team is looking to move forward and pushing all the boundaries. It’s really great to see.

“It just shows the hunger that there is in this team.

“You know, we had such a dominant car last year that you wouldn’t imagine us changing the concept as much, and I think it’s really brave from Red Bull to do that.”

A zeropod design is where the chassis structure is separated and the side impact bars are relocated, allowing teams to cut down the size of the car’s side pods, which create a sharp front corner on the body.

Side pods are in place as a result of F1’s rules but play havoc with the aerodynamics of the car itself, resulting in teams trying to find all sorts of measures to smooth them out and slim them down.

The zeropod method reduces drag and improves downforce, allowing better cornering at higher speeds.

As a concept, it was introduced to the sport by Mercedes on their W13 model in 2022 and used on the next year’s W14 before being dropped for this year.

Red Bull has now seemingly adopted a similar system in a bid to extend its significant pace advantage over its rivals.

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However, it has looked to tone down certain elements of the design, according to Helmut Marko, the team’s motorsport adviser.

He told Servus TV: “[Mercedes] were also convinced by the data of their sidepod-less concept, but in practice, it didn’t work at all.

“We will now see in the tests whether we can successfully implement this solution, or let’s say a similar solution.

“We don’t have it as extreme [as Mercedes], but we have it in a similar direction in terms of the idea.”

Marko echoed remarks made by Red Bull team boss Christian Horner back in 2022, when Merc debuted its version of the zeropod chassis, calling the idea “extreme”.

It’s just a different interpretation, a different solution

Christian Horner

Speaking at that year’s testing event, he said: “[Mercedes’] car is obviously innovative, it’s an interesting solution.

“What’s so good about this sport is you get a clean piece of paper and you get 10 different interpretations.

“Obviously Mercedes have come up with an extreme one that’s a different interpretation.”

However, he was quick to add that the concept was legal under the regulations, saying: “As far as we’re concerned it looks like the Mercedes car complies with the regulations.

“It’s just a different interpretation, a different solution.

“It looks like it ticks all the boxes.”

It comes as Horner is being investigated by Red Bull over bombshell “sexting” claims.

F1 legend could stay racing until he’s 50

The legendary Fernando Alonso has hailed his latest set of training results and said he could race until he’s 50 years old.

The Spaniard, 42, will stick with Aston Martin in 2024 following a promising season last year.

Now, he has said that ‘surprising’ pre-season tests have shown no sign of his body slowing down, leading him to believe he could stay on the grid into the 2030s.

Alonso explained: “We usually do the same tests. The first part we do in the Alps, in Italy, in the mountains

“We have historical data of my body’s cardio performance in one, two and five kilometres, in a resting state, in a thousand and one tests of fat or muscle, of reaction with the lights, as well as maximums from the gym with weights.

“While in some tests over the last five or six years, there was a minimal drop in performance, especially in terms of muscle, because, from the age of 30 or 35, you lose a little muscle.

“This winter, I’ve been exceeding a little bit the expectations in terms of all the physical tests and everything that I did, so I will say that if you are motivated, and if you want to commit, you can drive maybe until 48 or 49, or whatever, or even 50.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner called Merc's version of the concept 'extreme' at the time


Red Bull boss Christian Horner called Merc’s version of the concept ‘extreme’ at the timeCredit: Getty
However, he added that the design was legal in his opinion


However, he added that the design was legal in his opinionCredit: Red Bull Content Pool
Horner is facing an investigation over claims of 'inappropriate behaviour'


Horner is facing an investigation over claims of ‘inappropriate behaviour’Credit: Getty


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