Car launch events can be exciting. But often, they are not particularly representative of the car that they’re actually supposed to launch. Instead, the excitement is sometimes derived from the fact that they mean that the new season is approaching. Regardless, the Red Bull 2023 car launch event in New York City on Friday left fans scratching their heads. The car (& livery) revealed had no significant difference from its predecessor, the RB-18.
It’s understandable why teams do this: They don’t want to reveal the characteristics of their new car too early. Red Bull are known for making last-minute changes to the design, and also for debuting a very similar livery every season. So this event was never going to give fans an accurate preview of their car for the upcoming season. The event, too, was about many other things – such as announcing the partnership with Ford.
For an actual representative look at the car, fans will have to wait till pre-season testing in just under three weeks’ time. And as confirmed by Christian Horner, that car will at least look somewhat different from the one shown off at the event. In conversation with Motorsport.com, he said: “I think that the car that we have shown today, obviously, will be somewhat different to when you see it in Bahrain.”
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Christian Horner: Car shown in Red Bull launch event not a ‘total reflection’ of the real thing
Red Bull and Ford had been rumored to be linking up (for 2026) for months. The American manufacturer announced that they will return to Formula 1 mere hours before the start of the car launch event in New York. During the event, the partnership was confirmed, and it will be concerned with the power unit for 2026. It’s been widely reported that Ford will provide technical and financial support to the power unit being manufactured by Red Bull Powertrains, and it will be badged as a Ford engine in return.
So, this event in New York was never about the car. Instead, it was about the elephant in the room – the highly anticipated announcement. Christian Horner said: “Today was about launching the team’s aspirations for the year ahead, the partners that we have and, of course, the exciting announcement with the Ford partnership. To do it here in the US, in this market is the first time ever, obviously, for Red Bull Racing. What you’ve seen today obviously isn’t a total reflection of what will hit the track in Bahrain in a couple of weeks’ time.”
It will definitely be interesting to see just how different the car Red Bull bring out during pre-season testing is from the one shown at the New York event. But the actual exciting thing to look forward to is how it performs on the timesheets. There’s potential of a three-way title fight (between RB, Ferrari and Mercedes) in 2023. While pre-season testing won’t be entirely representative of how each team will fare in the upcoming season, it will definitely give us an inkling.
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