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Side by Side: The Differences Between Red Bull and Ferrari’s Sidepods

Written by Isabel Jane Caporaso, Edited by Debargha Banerjee

RedBull RB20; Image Credits: Red Bull Racing Instagram

Following the launch of all the cars on the 2024 grid, the most discussed topic has been that of the improved sidepods, especially in the RB20 and SF24. RedBull and Ferrari have in fact both brought distinct innovations to their sidepod philosophy. Let’s analyse the main differences between the two.

Before we dive into the comparison, we should explain what sidepods are and why they are crucial to the structure of a Formula One car. Sidepods are aerodynamic components that are located on either side of the car extending from the cockpit to the rear wheels.                                      

The main reason why the sidepods are so important is for their ability to manage airflow along the side, reducing drag and feeding air to the diffuser to improve the speed and overall drivability of the car.

Apart from being a fundamental part of the aerodynamic structure, the sidepods are also essential for housing cooling systems for the engine and internal components.   

Image Credits: Rosario Giuliana/Motorsport Week

Looking ahead to the new season, the sidepods have been tweaked in all of the cars. Some teams, such as Ferrari, have kept the project more conservative ‘evolution’, while others like Red Bull have sought ‘revolution’. 

The first difference is noticeable in the upper part of the sidepods. In the RB20 the engineers have opted for an overbite arrangement much to the surprise of everyone who was moving towards the underbite trend started by the RB18. This improves the airflow on the bodywork’s upper surface.

On the same note, they have added a so-called ‘waterslide gully’, in other words a crevasse, which is used to create flow separation in the rear end of the car.  


As for the SF24, the upper part does not present an overbite but a very harsh cut with big inlets. The waterslide gully is not present but it  has been replaced with an inclination which has the same purpose.

Comparison sidepods RB20 and SF24; Image credits: Red Bull Racing & Scuderia Ferrari Instagram

 Secondly, the difference within the inlets. RedBull’s have been positioned under the extension of the sidepod’s upper surface, making them hard to see at first.

This same choice provoked many speculations, as people believed that the engineers had chosen a zero-pods approach to the season. Although the sidepods are present, this theory is not a big stretch from what RedBull has planned to do.

As a matter of fact the team is poised to introduce a new upgrade package in the proximity of the Japanese Grand Prix which includes the zero-pods structure.

The reason being the change in temperature from the warmer races, such as Bahrain and Australia which demand more cooling as compared to Suzuka.    


Ferrari’s approach to the inlets is quite different. The team has in fact studied a way to improve the flow of air.

For this reason the sidepods have been designed with the intention of facilitating the bypass ductwork, by introducing a tray which separates the direction of the airflow. This makes it possible to have major circulation, not only towards the rear end of the car but also towards the floor. 

Comparison sidepods inlets of the RB20 and SF24; Image Credits - Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Ferrari Instagram

Even though the two cars share multiple differences, we will only know which team has got their concept right on the money when we hit the ground running in Bahrain.


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