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Red Bull's Pierre Wache on the new season

Published on 22 March 2021 by Bryan van Berlo

This weekend, the Formula 1 season gets underway with the Bahrain Grand Prix. Pierre Wache, technical director at Red Bull Racing, looks back on the test days in Sakhir prior to the season opener and talks about the changes in 2021.

So Pierre, tell us what’s new for 2021?
“What is new for 2021? That’s a small question but a big answer! We have a lot of carryover this year, by regulation the main structure of the car didn’t change and we, like all teams, have used parts from last year hence the name RB16B. 2021 also sees lots of technical rule changes, the FIA changed some parts of the aero regulations to reduce the load of the car, included changes on the floor, on the rear brake ducts and some small adjustments on the barge boards.”

“On top of that, F1 now has a budget cap. That has a massive effect on the sport and the front running teams. The way we work and the way we develop the car has to be more efficient in all areas of the business.”

From finishing testing to FP1, there’s only 11 days. What development can you realistically achieve in such a short period?
“Honestly, the process of development for FP1 in Bahrain starts after Day One of the test. We don't wait for the session to end on Sunday. We tested many parts throughout the three days and tried to understand what is working and what is not working with the car. We guide the process of development in terms of direction, and we try to have some minor updates for Race One. We also have the drivers working in the simulator to correlate with the track and see how we can improve the situation with the tools we have inside the car, or in our set-up, to help us achieve a better balance. When you see something perform a certain way on track and you say ‘oh, I can fix that’’, go to the simulator, make changes on the mechanical side and see if it helps or not.“

We know that Honda have worked incredibly hard over winter, and ExxonMobil have also launched a new fuel that we’ll use this season. Have you seen an improvement in performance?
“On the full car dyno we use, we see already some early signs of performance gain compared to last year. I think it is a combination of the engine development plus the ExxonMobil fuel.  I’m sure all teams and power units have made gains so we do not know if it put us ahead of anyone at this stage but we are very grateful for the work our partners have put in over the winter. Now we can only hope that the combination with the RB16B chassis is strong enough to take on the best in this engineering race.”