In this era in which the "metaverse" mixes more and more with reality, almost making the tangible from the virtual indistinguishable, it is no surprise that Red Bull officially presented its new single-seater, the RB19, in New York by displaying last year's RB18.
The Milton Keynes team used a similar tactic last year when their launch efforts involved a show car which wasn't even remotely comparable to the final version of real RB18, except for the livery.
Although it may seem paradoxical to say it, the car shown yesterday was much less of a "fake" than one might think. We anticipate, based on the rumours collected before the New York event, that the real RB19 will be practically indistinguishable from the previous single-seater.
The differences between the RB18 and the RB19 will appear to be minimal even when the new car hits the track for preseason testing in Bahrain. However, in reality, except for the steering wheel, the steering column, the wheel rims and a few other minor elements, the RB19 has nothing else in common with the RB18.
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The perfect similarity, despite being incidental, i.e. due to precise technical requirements of the design and packaging due to the excellent aerodynamic performance highlighted in 2022, also allows the following of a very specific strategy, preferred by Adrian Newey: do not show rivals the actual design effort made and, more importantly, make it difficult to identify the areas where significant developments have been made.
With the return to ground effect in 2022, hiding upgrades has been made even more possible. It is on the floor where the greatest secrets are hidden, and it is precisely this area responsible for over 70% of the car's aerodynamic performance. Just as crucial are the suspension systems, which will have to factor in the new construction of the Pirelli tyres, which Team Principal Christian Horner timidly alluded to in New York.
In fact, their kinematics were studied and finalised based on the tests carried out with the new tyres in the second part of last season. Verstappen, almost embarrassed, limited himself to declaring: "several new things inside, which I cannot reveal", but he was unknowingly more sincere than he would have liked to be, because the real secrets are hidden underneath and inside the RB19, a chassis unprecedented lighter, a rethought mechanical packaging. But all this is not visible.