Red Bull‘s 2024 Formula 1 car might have shown the first crack in its armour before hitting the track after their new machine failed an early crash test related to the chassis in December.
The test, said to have taken place prior to Christmas Day, relates to the frontal crash test and the failure means it did not achieve the required energy absorption to be deemed safe by the FIA and subsequently homologated.
Reports from Motorsport Italia claim that Red Bull are taking risks in order to reach the minimum weight of 798 kilograms as they “take choices to the extreme” in pursuit of the lightest possible nose.
According to an interview with Lewis Hamilton on The Graham Norton Show in 2019, 10 kilograms is worth three tenths of a second per lap, so any weight that can be shaved off can be worth a sizeable advantage.
Furthermore, a lighter nose means a more sensitive and responsive front end. This would mean the car is more likely to create oversteer and require minimal steering inputs, suiting the precision and preferences of three-time world champion Max Verstappen.
How serious is it for Red Bull?
So far it’s unclear how grave the failure could be with the F1 season beginning with pre-season testing on February 19-21 in Sakhir before the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix a week later. However, if history is anything to go off, it won’t worry them too much.
Red Bull‘s 2022 car also failed a frontal crash test a month before pre-season testing, also reported by Motorsport Italia, but it proved inconsequential as the RB18 went on to break records and win the championship.
Their first car of the ground effect era collected 759 constructors’ championship points and 17 wins as Verstappen broke the record for most victories in a season by a driver with 15 of them.