Red Bull dominated the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix but the weekend was not entirely smooth-sailing with Adrian Newey revealing the team faced a long Friday and Saturday shift in order to get on top of some reliability problems.
Despite the team recovering in qualifying to secure a front-row lockout, before converting the performance into a comfortable one-two race victory, the mechanics had to work hard to fix some surprising handling deficiencies.
“There was an unexpected problem on the car from a reliability point of view on Friday, which meant some extra work.” Newey said on the F1 Nation podcast.
“The car wasn’t behaving quite the same way as we expected it to do, the conditions seemed to have changed slightly. So as much as it looks smooth on the outside, it was the duck underneath the water on Friday and Saturday.”
Red Bull‘s chief technical officer may be referring to the handling problems Max Verstappen complained about on the radio, as Fernando Alonso pipped the Dutchman to top the timing chart in FP2.
“It’s a testament for us, we thought we had a competitive car but FP1, I must admit, kind of wiped the smile off us a bit because we had quite a few problems.” Newey continued, praising his team.
“And the boys reacted really well, we had quite a long evening on Friday night whilst getting over those problems.”
The response of the team may have sent a big message to any would-be usurpers to Red Bull’s throne, with the RB19 lapping a second faster than rivals at times, as Verstappen finished a massive 38 seconds ahead of Alonso’s third-placed Aston Martin.
Bahrain not representative
Despite this, Newey issued a reminder that Bahrain is the opening race and that the gap may not be as big at every race.
“This car is clearly a close evolution of last year’s but we had a good detailed look, tried to be critical of its weaknesses and tried to improve on those in lots of small ways.” Newey said.
“And on a sample of one, that seems to have worked reasonably well because it is a sample of one. This circuit has some peculiarities to it so we need to be careful to keep our feet on the ground and keep pushing.”
The RB19 will face its next test at the Saudi Arabian GP on March 19, with Ferrari, Aston Martin and Mercedes hoping they can be much closer to Red Bull’s pace than the season opener.