Red Bull are thought to have designed a feature in their RB18 that enables the back end to run lower to the ground at high speed.
There are tricky regulations for the teams to navigate between regarding every technical aspect of the car, including the ride height.
The suspension elements must maintain their shape integrity when the car is bobbling on the straight and, per Article 10.2.6 of the technical regulations, no “self-levelling systems” or “height control” is permitted.
This refers to any electronic help, such as active suspension, being used to help adjust the angle of the car on the straight.
A Mercedes engineer is quoted as having told Auto Motor und Sport that “the Red Bull has the highest ground clearance at the rear when stationary and the lowest at high speed.”
They divulged that the German side simply did not have the capacity to deliver a similar concept on their car.
“Doing something like that with a conventional chassis takes up space and weight, we didn’t have one or the other,” they added.
Active suspension was invented for the Williams team by Red Bull’s current chief designer, Adrian Newey, who has come up with some of the most ingenious engineering solutions over the years.
That artificial movement of the car is now banned, so the Briton has much stricter parameters within which he has to work.
There is nothing in the regulations against something mechanical, but not active, adjusting the car, and measures such as “ant-lift” and “anti-squat” are permitted in the rulebook.
Every car goes through intense scrutineering from the FIA, so there cannot be any argument that Red Bull have designed something illegal – Newey has simply pulled another one out of the bag.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is certain that there “something mechanical” at play, which is helping Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez down the straight.
After a tough weekend in Singapore last time out, Verstappen passed Sebastian Vettel on the final lap to claim sixth, and the German noticed the incredible pace advantage the Red Bull had over his Aston Martin.
“He drops his tail and flies past you,” said the German.
If Verstappen wins with the fastest lap in Japan this weekend, he will be crowned a double world champion, while he and Sergio Perez look all set to guide Red Bull to their fifth constructors’ success.