Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2020

Red Bull will be ‘chomping at the heels’ of Mercedes, predicts Brown

2020 F1 season

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McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown suspects Red Bull have overtaken Ferrari as the closest challenger to Mercedes during the off-season.

However Brown told the official F1 website he isn’t sure if they will be able to mount of a season-long challenge to the world champions.

“I think ’20 and ’21 are going to be kind of more of the same of what we saw in ’19,” said Brown. “I think the midfield will be even closer.

“It looks to us from winter testing that Mercedes is going to be the dominant team again in ’20 and because of the rules – we’re [not] allowed to modify the cars that much – I would anticipate Mercedes will be looking pretty good in ’20 and ’21.

“It looks like Red Bull took a step forward, so I think they’ll be chomping at their heels. But I’m not sure they can catch them over a season.

“Ferrari was a bit tricky to read. People seemed to think they may not quite have the pace. Unknown, I think that will become clear soon.”

Brown is wary of the threat to McLaren from Racing Point, whose new car closely resembles last year’s Mercedes.

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“We’re happy with the progress we made,” he said. Clearly Racing Point, as everyone calls it the pink Mercedes, they’ve become extremely competitive overnight which one would if you were using effectively the championship [winning] car from last season. That midfield battle will be even tighter and I think that’ll roll into ’21.”

McLaren will join Racing Point in using Mercedes power unit next year, which Brown said will be a “benefit” for the team.

“But that comes to the detriment of how much upgrades we can do to the car, because with this token system that’s been created, we’re having to use some of our tokens to adapt our chassis for the Mercedes engine.

“So we’ll have the benefit of what we think will be more competitive power unit. We think the Renault engine is very strong but I think all people recognise Mercedes as the strongest. But we’ll be limited on what other development we can do. Depending on how strong our car is, that may or may not hurt us.

“So I think ’22 is when, if there is a shake-up of the order, I think ’22 is when that comes.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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18 comments on “Red Bull will be ‘chomping at the heels’ of Mercedes, predicts Brown”

  1. We’re happy with the progress we made. Clearly Racing Point, as everyone calls it the pink Mercedes, they’ve become extremely competitive overnight which one would if you were using effectively the championship [winning] car from last season.

    That’s some serious passive-aggressive saltiness right there. Also, not fair. They copied what they saw from a more successful competitor. That’s part of F1 and always has been. McLaren did it their way and if it isn’t quicker than what Racing Point did, tough luck Zak. Do better.

    1. Matter of perspective. Racing Point clearly got technical materials from Mercedes, the relationship of Wolff and Stroll is far above the standard. You simplycannot just copy structural parts requiring a huge deal of development to pass the crash tests, and different stories Andrew Green pulls out on each occasion just underline that there is far more under the surface.

      1. Unless there’s prove Racing Point did something illegal, they simply did a better job than their competition within the regulations. It’s that simple. And thus the answer for Zak is equally simple: Do better.

        1. When actual constructors go bust and exit the sport you may regret saying these B teams copying designs is fine as you’ll truly have a two tier class of F1.

        2. @jeffreyj I disagree. Firstly in the quote you’ve selected Zak starts by saying they are happy with their progress. So when you say ‘do better‘ that to me is indeed ‘passive aggressive saltiness’ towards Zak on your part.

          Secondly, he is stating a fact. And while you may congratulate RP for doing everything within the regs, I really doubt that most fans consider that there should be a trophy for best copier of a winners design. Hey like you said, it’s legal, but let’s not pretend that it is not a contentious issue in F1…see Haas. Some would say of teams that can’t do it themselves and must copy others, do better. And sure, throughout the decades teams have always copied ideas from other teams when they see said ideas working, but whole cars? Or whole back ends? No I think that is pretty unique to these hybrid cars whose integration with the chassis is so vital.

          Personally I think it is quite clear that just copying someone else, or buying everything you legally can from elsewhere, is no guarantee of success, and in spite of what RP has done I don’t expect them to be in the top 3. I’ll respect a team that does better on their own terms because they have the in-house ability to do so, over a team that couldn’t sustain a run of growth because their only talent is copying others on whom they have become dependent.

          Perhaps moot anyway as come 2022 everyone will be having to design their own cars as there will be no previous year’s car to copy.

    2. @jeffreyj do you realize that “copying” is just being used for legal purposes. all teams are aware that it is the same car. the rp is for all intents and purposes last year’s mercedes with an outdated aero package.

  2. They will not

  3. Kind of a risky move, in the light of this token system, as one can see how a mercedes engine performs in a non developed car with Williams for example. Hopefully they got a good car to start with.

  4. RocketTankski
    27th June 2020, 11:59

    They’ll be chomping at their heels and hot on the bit. Like a frog with a bone, they’ll be hounding them like a fox. Separated by a fish’s whisker.

  5. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    27th June 2020, 13:41

    The criticism of Racing Point’s ‘pink Mercedes’ is interesting – specifically the concern of how competitive it’ll be. I remember when Super Aguri rolled up with a repainted Honda RA106 and were decently competitive for a few races but they weren’t on the pace of the original Honda, nor did that advantage last long. Even if the Pink Mercedes is a direct copy of last year’s Mercedes – which wouldn’t be legal in the rules it’ll most likely follow a similar path. It’ll be fast in the first couple of races and tail off as updates come – and given teams are ALREADY bringing upgrades due to the shortened season their ‘advantage’ may not exist anymore.

    Racing Point’s not a bad team and probably could upgrade a year-old design a little better than Super Aguri did – same with Alpha Tauri using year-old Red Bulls or Haas ‘borrowing’ an old Ferrari but I can’t see them gaining a lasting or significant advantage. And like Super Aguri, if their ‘parent team’ builds a lemon they end up with an RA107. It’s certainly not without risk.

    1. @rocketpanda – That’s a good point. If Racing Point performs similarly to last years Mercedes (we don’t know how ‘deep’ the the outward similarities go) because they’ve copied the design well – they may not be able to keep up the development pace of other teams. RP have always been interesting though, and Stroll senior may have the funds to throw at this, and Perez is a racer I find exciting to watch.

      1. The only downside for Racing Point is that they have Stroll as a driver .. and that will remain the coming years!

  6. Ferrari is way out of it.

  7. As to RBR chomping at Mercedes heels, that sure was my takeaway from pre-season testing, but of course I am willing to admit some of that may be wishful thinking on behalf of Max, and with the hopes that Mercedes will be challenged. We won’t know until they race in anger obviously. Can’t wait.

  8. So at least two more years of this. How depressing.

  9. “Chomping at their heels?” I miss Ron Dennis.

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