Red Bull to introduce sizable upgrades at Japanese GP

Jaden Diaz
2 Apr, 2024

Just like last season, the Japanese Grand Prix is the race following the end of Red Bull’s winning streak. For various reasons, both the 2023 Singapore GP and the 2024 Australian GP were difficult for the reigning Champions. Last year, the introduction of two technical directives coincided with Sainz’s victory, creating some speculation about how far Red Bull would be impacted. In Australia, Ferrari’s rise and graining on the RB20 were the more relevant factors

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Graining management is an area in which Ferrari has proven to be particularly strong. And it’s probably not a coincidence that they were strong in Las Vegas and now in Australia,” said Christian Horner after the Australian GP.

In both events, Pirelli had brought the softest tyres in the range to the track, being the C3-C4-C5 triad. Graining is generally more likely when softer compounds are used and on semi-permanent circuits. At these events, there is typically less grip, and the surface is ‘greener’.

After the debacle in Singapore last October, Max Verstappen arrived at Suzuka and demolished the competition.

He claimed Pole Position by over half a second, finishing 20 seconds ahead of the McLaren duo on race day. Suzuka track is a more ‘normal’ track and certainly less ‘unique’ in terms of technical characteristics compared to Singapore and even Australia’s Albert Park.

For this reason, we expect Verstappen and the RB20 to be stronger this weekend. They should be around 2-3 tenths faster than their immediate rivals on race day. Red Bull’s tyre struggles in Australia are unlikely to be repeated this weekend.

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The Japanese track is well suited to the RB20. Its strengths are in the high-speed corners, which are plentiful in Suzuka. In the first sector, immediate rivals Ferrari could also be vulnerable to Mclaren, given the MCL38’s strong points are largely in the high speed.

“Our car worked really well in Australia. From the first lap, it seemed like a winning car,” explained Carlos Sainz.

“But it will be difficult to maintain this pace on every track until we introduce an update – to close the gap we saw in Bahrain and Jeddah compared to Red Bull.” 

Red Bull

Speaking of updates, Ferrari will bring a minor update to Suzuka, which was approved a few days ago. The Italian team’s main upgrades will arrive in Imola.

In the meantime, Red Bull will try to get ahead of the Scuderia. The latest upgrades from Milton Keynes, which will debut in Japan, are not considered ‘minor’.

These updates include a new floor, which Ferrari will not change until round 7. This macro component is essential in generating aerodynamic load and performance in modern F1 cars. Moreover, Red Bull will not change to the ‘zeropod’ concept, despite what was previously suggested.

Red Bull are undoubtedly the favourites heading into this weekend in Japan. However, weather forecasts indicate rain could play a factor in Suzuka this weekend. This could throw a spanner in the works and provide the likes of Ferrari and McLaren with a chance to disrupt the Austrian team’s plans.

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