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Editor’s note: This article was updated on 6/6/2023. 

Ahead of the 2021 Formula 1 season, the newest iteration of the Red Bull Racing car has been released. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will drive the RB16B cars with the Honda engine. What’s changed, you might ask? A lot of things you can’t see right off the bat.

Changes to the Red Bull Racing 2021 car

Mark Hughes of F1 calls it an “extensively re-engineered car” compared to the RB16 driven during the 2020 season. It was to be expected that the car would get a massive overhaul because it is supposed to catapult the team to greatness again. While it might not look that different, the small changes should ideally make a big difference. 

As part of the new 2021 Formula 1 Technical Regulation, the car’s floor will no longer be a straight line back on the sides. It will be wider from behind the front wheel and then taper in as it moves toward the back wheel. There will no longer be cutouts along the floor in the same area, as such features have effectively been banned from 2020 forward. Check out a more in-depth look at the recent F1 changes and regulations over the last few years.

Improvements to the Red Bull Racing car for low-speed maneuvering

The nose of the car is also narrower, and the cape starts further back. During the last season, Red Bull Racing had issues on the track moving at lowers speeds. It was found that the nose of the car was interfering with the wing and could result in a loss of grip on the rear end. With the new shape of the front, the car should hopefully be less of a disturbance as the air flows from front to back. The front wing looks relatively unchanged compared to other F1 cars.

The rear brake ducts are not as obvious a change but have been shortened from 40mm to 80mm, according to Foruma 1. Additionally, the top brake ducts will stay at 120mm. This might be a small piece of the puzzle, but these create a necessary downforce to the wheels. The vertical diffusers on the back of the car will also be shorter by 50mm in the hopes of further reducing downforce. Overall, one of the obvious themes here seems to be reducing downforce.

What engine will Red Bull Racing use in 2021?

While Honda was supposed to stop supplying the engines for Red Bull and AlphaTauri after the agreement expired this year, the companies recently reached a deal through 2024. Red Bull will essentially maintain the Honda engines under Red Bull Powertrains Limited. Beyond that, we don’t know much about the new engine the team will be running. Verstappen and Perez were allowed to drive the car at Silverstone this week. Alex Albon was also there as the reserve driver.

This will be the first time Perez gets to drive on the Red Bull Racing team, and there is a lot on the line. Verstappen and Albon made some great strides last season. Albon was ultimately demoted to reserve driver after Perez won the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix.

While we still have some time before pre-season testing begins on March 12 in Bahrain, things seem to be heating up for all teams. It’s not lights out just quite yet, but we can start getting our team gear out of the closet again soon.


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