In the first of a new feature, Red Bull Racing Honda Technical Director, Pierre Wache, talks to “WHAT THE TECH?” about pre-season testing.
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.
Checo is new to the Team this year, how valuable is it to get his feedback on the car?
We value Sergio’s feedback a lot. I worked with him when he started Formula One in the Sauber team. His feedback and his capacity to drive the car, especially in long runs; how he’s managing very well the pace and reducing the degradation. Clearly his current feedback on the handling of the car, and the experience he had with a completely different car concept previously was valuable for us and interesting to understand.
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.
STATS and FACTS
- Qualifying day in Bahrain marks ten years to the day since Sergio Perez made his Grand Prix debut at the 2011 Australian Grand Prix
- Qualifying day is also the 50th birthday of former Red Bull driver David Coulthard, who scored points on the Team’s debut at the 2005 Australian Grand Prix, before claiming Red Bull’s first podium finish at the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix
- The Bahrain International Circuit is located approximately 34 kilometres outside of the capital city of Manama. This is still nearly five kilometres less than the height from which Felix Baumgartner made his record-setting Red Bull Stratos skydive in October 2012
- When laid end to end, it would take 40,388 cans of Red Bull to complete a single lap of the Bahrain International Circuit
- Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez completed 1,997 kilometres of pre-season testing for this race, greater than the total Grand Prix distance raced by 62 constructors in world championship history!
- Sergio Perez’s victory at the 2020 Sakhir GP was his first win in his 190th start. Making him the first Mexican driver to win a Formula One race since Pedro Rodriguez took victory for BRM at the 1970 Belgian GP