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The Red Bull aero benefit that could be a future reliability weakness

RacingNews365 technical expert Paolo Filisetti explains how a key difference underneath the cars sets both the Aston Martin AMR23 and Red Bull RB19 apart.

Aston Martin may have been branded the 'Green Red Bull' by their Formula 1 competitors, but underneath the bodywork their car is very different. Observing the floors of both the RB19 and the AMR23 from the Australian Grand Prix, we can see a key difference that sets both cars apart. Observing them from their upper side (i.e the floor facing upwards), one fact emerged that concerns the housing of the gearbox. The upper side of the floor acts as a cover to some key mechanical elements, including the gearbox housing. A direct comparison of the RB19's gearbox housing with the AMR23 reveals that the Red Bull gearbox is practically half that of the Aston Martin. It is worth mentioning that the Aston Martin shares components, including the gearbox and rear suspension, with Mercedes, so the rear volumes between the W14 and the AMR23 are practically identical. Returning to the gearbox section of the RB19, it is also striking how the housing on the bottom of the car is lower than that of the AMR23. This would indicate that the lower section of the RB19 gearbox has been designed to interfere as little as possible with the diffuser channels, the depth enabling Red Bull to increase the width.

No compromises on aerodynamics

The tight packaging of the single-seater, designed by Adrian Newey and Pierre Wache, was done with no compromise on the aerodynamics. The priority for them was producing the maximum amount of vertical load from the floor, thus guaranteeing the best performance in fast corners. But that tight design comes at a cost, as the recent races have shown. Both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez had their gearbox's replaced in Saudi Arabia, albeit on a precautionary level. Verstappen is often heard complaining of his gearbox in both practice sessions and the race, which seemed to suffer from less fluidity when downshifting. These are sensations which do not manifest themselves into any subsequent problems, but it seems the minimal sizing of the internal elements of the gearbox and of the O-rings can lead to greater stress and wear.

Could Red Bull be beset by poor reliability?

This could lead to issues later in the season. While Red Bull has not had any credible challenge from rival teams, the race in Saudi Arabia did expose a potential weakness in their car. Both drivers were told to slow down due to mechanical problems and if faced with the opposition later in the season - when rivals have closed the gap - this could leave them vulnerable when pushing the limits of these parts. Only then would it be possible to understand whether the car was conceived at the limit of reliability or not.

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