Red Bull's Performance in the Hybrid Era: Short Review

Published on 20 December 2023 at 12:00

Since the inception of the hybrid era in Formula 1 in 2014, Red Bull Racing has experienced a remarkable journey. This era, characterised by the introduction of V6 turbo-hybrid engines, presented a significant shift from the V8 engines used previously, and Red Bull's adaptation to these changes has been a narrative of innovation, challenges, and eventual dominance.


Early Challenges (2014-2016)

Initially, the transition to the hybrid era was a challenge for Red Bull. The team, which had been dominant in the V8 era, securing four consecutive drivers' and constructors' championships from 2010 to 2013, found itself grappling with the new regulations. The main challenge was adapting to the new power units. During this period, Red Bull struggled with reliability issues and couldn't match the performance levels of Mercedes, the new frontrunner in the sport.


Adaptation and Growth (2017-2020)

Despite the early setbacks, Red Bull showed resilience. The team's focus shifted towards optimising its chassis and aerodynamics to complement the hybrid power units better. This period saw Red Bull gradually improve its performance, with notable race wins and podium finishes. The partnership with engine supplier Honda, starting in 2019, marked a turning point, as the team began to close the gap with Mercedes more significantly.


Return to Dominance (2021-2023)

Red Bull's return to form was most emphatically marked in the 2021 season. Max Verstappen, one of the team's drivers, clinched the drivers' championship in a dramatic finale, ending Mercedes' seven-year dominance. The 2021 car, RB16B, was a masterclass in design, optimising both aerodynamics and power unit performance.


In 2023, Red Bull's RB19-Honda was a marvel of engineering, helping the team set new records for consecutive victories​​. This car marked a significant evolution in design philosophy, moving away from the high rake concept to a more ground effect-dominated design, in line with the new regulations introduced in 2021. This shift required a rethinking of the car's aerodynamics and the packaging of the power unit.


Technical Innovations

Red Bull's success in the hybrid era can be attributed to several key technical innovations. The team's approach to aerodynamics, particularly the ground effect principle, has been crucial. Under the new regulations, Red Bull adapted its design to maximize downforce while complying with the rules. The team's proficiency in strategy allowed it to outmanoeuvre rivals on the track, often making crucial calls during races that turned potential defeats into victories.


The Future Outlook

Looking ahead, Red Bull remains focused on maintaining its competitive edge. Team principal Christian Horner has emphasised the team's commitment to continuous development, already shifting some focus to the 2024 car. Despite leading the constructors' championship, Horner acknowledges that other teams could close the gap in the second half of the season, as Red Bull balances current performance with future preparations​​.



Red Bull Racing's performance in the hybrid era of Formula 1 illustrates a story of adaptation, technical excellence, and strategic acumen. From early struggles to finding their footing and eventually returning to the top, the team's journey is a testament to their resilience and commitment to excellence in the world's premier motorsport category.


If you would like to see the road on how Max Verstappen became a three-time world champion, the click the link below!


Aaron Teasdale

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