Red Bull‘s chief engineer, Paul Monaghan, expressed annoyance at pictures that circulated of the team’s car floor design. The photos were taken after Sergio Perez crashed out of qualifying and his car was lifted into the air, revealing the underside of the dominant RB19. Rivals such as Mercedes admitted to studying the floor, an area where teams can find significant aerodynamic performance gains. Monaghan commented on the situation, saying, “It’s not great. We don’t put our car up, but it has happened and we’ll move on. But there’s a phase lag between people seeing it, getting it onto their car and actually going faster with it. A better description is that an ignorant copy isn’t necessarily going to go faster. It has to integrate. And it’s not just a bit of floor geometry.”
Monaghan also noted that Formula One upgrades are not an immediate fix. The lead times for new aerodynamic concepts take time, as shown by Mercedes, who identified the need to go in a new direction after qualifying for the first race in March, but only introduced an upgrade in May.
Monaghan suggests that it might take rivals until October’s Japanese Grand Prix to fit a Red Bull-inspired floor on their car. However, he went on to add that if they changed someone else’s development plan, the phase lag by which they could get it to the car would be increased. “So around Japan time we’ll see where everybody is,” he said. “But we’ve got to maintain our discipline and our development path. And it’s only our car that we can change. We can’t influence what those guys do. So, we’ll keep plugging away in our own manner and we’ll try to be quickest.”
Monaghan acknowledged that teams copying each other’s designs is a common occurrence in Formula One and a method of leveling the playing field. He stated, “It’s happened for many years, and it will carry on. It’s a method of levelling the sport. There are no copyrights, are there?” However, the Red Bull team will keep working on its own development path while feeling confident that the “ignorant copies” won’t make any of their rivals go faster.