The Milton Keynes- based team is officially launching its 2024 challenger at an event at its factory on Thursday, and had hoped to keep the design secret until then, despite some early running.
But despite world champion Max Verstappen’s first laps in the car on Tuesday being a strictly behind-closed-doors event, video footage taken by a spectator – most likely from the hotel opposite Silverstone’s pits – has offered us a first glimpse of the new Red Bull car.
While the images are not high enough quality to pick out much detail of the changes that Red Bull has made, they do indicate that the RB20 is very much an evolution of last year’s title-winning RB19.
There do seem to be some interesting areas of development though, including the full-length gulleys that run down the engine cover and are similar to last year’s Mercedes.
Plus, the area around the front of the sidepod appears to be a step change from last year, and has allowed for a particularly aggressive undercut to help further charge the airflow in a critical area of the car.
Although Red Bull has to limit mileage during the shakedown day, it is understood that part of its running today was for a promotional race between the RB20 and its original RB1 from 2005.
It is believed that the RB20 running at Silverstone is only the launch-spec of the car, because Red Bull has been known to hold back on revealing too much about its definitive race specs before it is necessary.
That could mean a raft of changes being introduced for either next week’s pre-season F1 test in Bahrain or the season-opener at the Sakhir circuit that could make it look very different.
Red Bull’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey said recently that the team had elected to stick to its basic car concept for the third year running because it had proved to be such a success already in the new ground effect era.
Speaking to the team’s Talking Bulls podcast about what could be expected from the RB20, Newey said: “Our car, it’s very much a third evolution of the 22 car.
“Last year’s car was an evolution of ’22 in its main points being of course, the normal winter development in terms of aerodynamics, some understanding on what we needed to do with suspension to try to improve the car as well, and getting weight out of it, because we never got down to the weight limit in ’22.
“This year’s car is the third evolution of that original RB18. What we don’t know, of course, is the third evolution too conservative, while others have done something different? You just don’t know.”