Why a team introduces a different chassis for a driver
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 May 2014   |  6:11 pm GMT  |  144 comments

Sebastian Vettel played down the significance of his new chassis here in Spain, pointing out that it isn’t brand new – it was used for pre-season testing – but it’s new to him this season replacing one that he said, “Isn’t talking to me.”

Vettel has struggled this season, twice being asked to move over to let his team mate Daniel Ricciardo through during races.

So what goes on behind the scenes with these chassis and why does a team introduce a new one for a driver in a situation like this?

JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan offers this insight:

“Typically a team makes 4 to 5 chassis a year and sometimes the better funded teams will make 6. The lead time to manufacture a new chassis from scratch is between 60 to 90 days. With modern manufacturing techniques and testing process there is very little between each chassis in terms of mass and stiffness, assuming that they are made to the same design.

“Going to Australia the teams will have 3 chassis made and should have run at least two on track. These two tend to be the race chassis. One may chose to adopt a new chassis for the first race but this is not necessarily the norm and depends what has happened to the other two chassis.

“For instance if there have been incidents in the FIA crash tests or on track which has necessitated modifications and/or local repairs to the first two chassis which add mass and can compromise stiffness one may chose to use chassis no 3 and put no 1 or 2 in the box as a spare tub. Moreover newer chassis may have updates to reduce mass etc which is clearly beneficial, especially this season when everyone is pushing hard to reduce mass as much as possible.

“Some drivers also tends to get ‘attached’, in an almost superstitious manner, to their particular chassis, especially if things are going well, although the opposite is true too. When performances are not as expected then doubts can arise over the chassis, although these are usually unfounded.

“The positive aspect of moving to a new chassis is that it removes uncertainty (the last thing that you want is the driver believing that there may be an issue with their chassis) and the driver will also benefit from any improvements that can be included in the design to reduce mass, whilst not compromising on safety.”

As for Vettel’s explanation of why he changed chassis and what he is looking for from the change, here is what he said in the FIA press conference this afternoon in Barcelona, admitting that he has been struggling with the car’s rear end stability issues and cannot feel the car as he wishes to,

“We all have our own style to how we like to drive the car, how to set up the car. I think in general I don’t mind when the rear’s moving so I don’t mind suffering or having oversteer in the car. But if it is too much obviously if it starts to bother you when the car slides too much, then you find yourself correcting more than actually being able to push or get the maximum out of the car. And, yeah, it slows you down. I think that has been part of the problem so far.

“We concluded after China, where we were quite a little bit behind, to change the chassis, so actually it’s not a new chassis, it’s an old one that we used in testing in the winter, and we have some experience with it.

“It’s more a sanity check rather than a real problem with the other chassis. So it’s just to try everything we can and basically reset and start again. Obviously there is still a lot of work ahead of us, as I mentioned after the first couple of races, maybe I’m not as happy as I want to be but it’s a long process, a lot of things have changed and I think we need to be patient.”

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Vettel’s real problem is created by the media.

When the media tried to force feed everyone on how great Vettel was it left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth… no one likes to be force fed lies.

We can all see that only Newey won the WDCs and WCCs…

The media need to admit that driving to deltas was the only reason Vettel stayed on top.


Indeed Newey won all of Vettel’s WDC’S. He didn’t win any with Raikkonen, though. Makes you think.


Was only 50-50 or so with Hakkinen


Seb is complaining of problems under braking and oversteer out of corners. No blown floor = no confidence in those regimes.


Seb’s explanation of the chassis switch implies they don’t fully understand why he’s struggling. Perhaps that’s why the team preferred to say it was scheduled.

By the way, I’m surprised the chassis homologation rules allow weight-saving updates.


I don’ there are chassis homologation rules. The tub needs to pass crash tests to be allowed to race, and that is about it. The time to design and produce them is a key constraint.

Kenneth M'Boy

In 2010, Webber was given Vettel’s repaired cracked chassis (chassis #3) for the British Gp, which he went onto win. He needed a new chassis after his colossal accident in Valencia with Kovalainen’s Caterham. Mark won the British Gp in style after an awkward weekend for Red Bull, “not bad for a number 2 driver”, “Red Bull gives you wings and then Seb takes them off you”, remember? All good fun stuff.

Two races after that, Mark destroyed the field in Hungary, in one of his best wins ever. Anyway the point of the story is that, while Red Bull can be prone to make favourable decisions towards one driver during the weekend, the boys and girls back at the factory in Milton Keynes do a fantastic job in building fast race cars, even ones that were broken and needed repairing.

I believe this new chassis is part of their programme and they are just a team who don’t like to lose. They also know that when Seb is quick then his confidence soars and he becomes even quicker. I can’t blame them for trying anything to get his confidence back. I still hope Daniel beats him though.


Off topic, but will we see RED BULL’s ANALYSIS – F1 2014 THE STORY SO FAR?


If we’re making predictions:

RBR: 4/10

Vettel: 4/10

Ricciardo: 8/10


well done to james for introducing a silver page at last!



Can you or Mark Gillen Advise if there have been any recent examples of teams finding issues when they swop Chassis in examples like this?

and while off current topic, with the reduction in Revs on current engines, have any engine manufacturer reverted to Valve springs from Pneumatic Valve actuation?


What’s going to be the excuse when Daniel beats him again? lol


I did not get enough track time in FP1 and FP2.


Of course. The truth of the matter is Vettel is overrated. He just cannot come to grips with a car that doesn’t stick to the road. Ricciardo has come to Redbull and outperformed him. All my doubts about Vettel has been justified this year. He’s a good driver. He’s just not special.


@ JF Fair play. He had a very good drive in the Spanish GP.


Too soon. 4 races in one season is not enough to make sweeping judgments.




It’s a chassis, by god sake, it’s absolutely rigid and equal to the other unless there’s something wrong with it, in which case RB would know for sure.

They need to change the chassis to explain why Vettel, suddenly, has the edge over the poor Ricciardo.

It’s as simple as that, and if I’m wrong I will eat the broken chassis.


You are spot on mate!


Does Vettel lack expertise in setting up his car? From above statement it looks like he still doesnt knows whats bothering him.

Peter Mitchell

Just hope they both have the same equipment and let their be a fair fight between the RBR boys. If Vettel performs better or faster with the new chassis I’m sure favouritism will again be spoken about.

I think the best outcome is Dan outperforms Vettel again this way the chassis will not be in question nor will favouritism.

kenneth chapman

an interesting take on the subject. a couple of points here, is the ‘new/old chassis the same as the current chassis? obviously not otherwise why change? therefore the ‘current chassis’ can’t be a bad chassis otherwise how is it that ricciardo isn’t experiencing the same problems.

it definitely indicates that vettel’s side of the garage are desperately seeking some form of divine intervention by way of a mechanical scapegoat to deflect their hero’s drop in performance. maybe he just isn’t quite so infallible as many think? early days of course and i do expect vettel to strike back and soon but hopefully ricciardo can match this and fight the good fight.


they’re experienced enough to know what’s likely to influence performance.

kenneth chapman

@ aveli,….if as you say they are experienced enough to know etc etc etc, then they certainly haven’t shown that over the previous four races have they?

kenneth chapman

@ aveli….sorry, you’ve lost me?


if they didn’t know, hey wouldn’t. E in f1.


It’s all about confidence, that’s the real issue changing the chassis takes away the doubt and negatives,

We will see soon maybe Vets real issue is that he isn’t as comfortable in this years technology he admits that he doesn’t like the way car brakes into corner.


i’d consider that if he’d just joined redbull.

Matthew Cheshire

It seems like Vettel is trying not to change his technique with the blown diffuser, even though it’s gone. Is newey telling him they’ll find more downforce and it’ll all come good? They’ve done it before.


a great driver will drive anything faster than the opposition.


Too simplistic.


The world is so full of simpletons and madmen, that one need not seek them in a madhouse” 🙂


simple enough for you to understand at least.


Aveli’s line is pretty much “Hamilton is the best at everything, ever in F1”. He’s suggesting Vettel isn’t great because he’s slower than Dan in this years cars.

graham bowman

Your right that in Spain it’s free but it’s not ideal, there are 4/5 4 minute advert breaks upon which you can still see the action but in a small box in the corner. These breaks always seem to be just as something good is happening. I stick to watching on the Internet, though bad quality you see it all and get better commentary, the live feed is from Sky f1.ilegal and free, two fingers up at abernie and sky.


Totally agree.

i do the same since somehow star sports is able to skip all the real action during adverts.


Still one of the nicer looking cars, the RB10. I like the look of it, and the W05. Both just look fast. The Ferrari does a little, but the nose ruins it for me.

I for one will be surprised if Ricciardo beats him again this weekend.


I won’t be 🙂


Ricciardo’s been great so far, hope he keeps it up. I’ve always rated his speed, and could never understand how some would plump for JEV over him.

But still Vettel is their main man, they know (or believe, at this time), that if things tightened up on the grid, that it’s Vettel that could make the final difference resulting in some gained positions. I guess a sort of “form is temporary, class is permanent” line of thought. That is something Ricciardo will have to contend with through the season. Vettel will always be given the benefit of the doubt, in the team. Ricciardo just has to keep doing what he’s doing, beaming smile and being quick, quick, quick. Marko commented on his sunny demeanour this week. That’s a great quality to have. I can’t imagine anyone in the team (apart from Vettel) not liking his Happy Warrior attitude.

Matthew Cheshire

You have to wonder if Marko could be making Ricciardo his No.1 boy He’s a big win for him and Vettel is old news for the driver program. The next championship for Red Bull is at least a year away. You’d have to give DR even odds to be the one to win it. Marko does seem to be the kind of guy to jump ship early if it suits him..


Now I wait for RBR to “fix” up this chassis and give it to Dan to use. I also expect Dan to outperform Seb! hahaha

Cynicism aside, I expect RBR will probably use an extra chassis or two this year in a quest to catch the Mercs


I doubt Ric wants that chassis. It doesn’t run much.


My view on Vetel is his talant is not driving, but politics within the team.

Do we know if Dan’s car has any upgrades?


I smell something 🙂 Red Bull sh….. 😉

Hope he has a good weekend, I like the guy. Hope DR and him take the fight to Mercedes GP. We need it.


None has the package to take the fight to Mercedes. They are way superior this year.


I just got a flashback to 1995. Well done 🙂


Was it Alonso who won one of his championship with a single chassis?


Buton I think


Whist I’ve never been a huge Vettel fan, ( but not a [mod] either), but I am always impressed with his thoughtful answers to questions. He seems to be very good at being a real person rather than a PR drone like some drivers. His comment of a “Sanity Check” makes sense…if you are not sure its in your own mind, or its the car, make some changes to prove either way.

Bring back V12's !!!

You mean his incessantly long, drawn out, boring and tedious replies. He talks wayyyyyyyyyyyy too much.


Just remember that there have been no world championships won with a inferior car. Vettel is one of the few current drivers smart enough to understand this fact, or at least is honest enough to admit it.


Thanks, but the point I was making is that some drivers do win the championship without having a massive car advantage.

Unfortunately in the last 5 championships there has been one very dominant car. This isn’t a problem when there are 2 strong drivers, like 1988 but it was clear that Webber should have been replaced 2 seasons ago.


Depends what you mean by “inferior”. There have been plenty of DWCs won in a car that didn’t win the WCC. Hamilton was the last to do so, in 2008. His McLaren, on balance over the entire season, was not as good as the Ferrari was. So, in that sense, it is possible to win with an inferior car.

If you mean inferior as decidedly lower-class, then you’re right: no driver, no matter how good, can win with a car that cannot be coaxed to run near the front from time to time.

I’ve said it before, but in F1 a great driver can turn silver into gold, but they can’t turn crap into gold. The car has to be decent, and relatively close to the best car, to stand any chance.


“Inferior” was meant to take into consideration reliability etc. The fastest car is not necessarily the best car.


There are plenty of world championships where there have been at least 2 cars of similar speed, most recently 2007 and 2008 in particular.

Alonso’s wins 2005 and 2006 were tightly contested and Mclaren arguably had the faster car but more unreliability.

Senna won in 1991 in a vastly inferior Mclaren and in 1990 where Ferrari and Mclaren were evenly matched.

Prost won in 1985 and 1986 for Mclaren when the Williams were faster.

What about 1982? There were many cars all very evenly matched, 11 winners in 16 races.

1967 Denny Hulme?

I could go on…



Thats a good history and I agree with you. Fastest car does not always win, look at Mclaren in 2012.


2008 championship winning car was not good enough to win the constructors’ championship.


that’s another way of looking at it.


Because Heikki is not really that good.


I’m not a mod either. I’m a rocker. 😉


You must like to have a modding good time then 😉


Lets see if the placebo will light the fuse.

If Ricciardo continues to beat Vettel (new chassis and all), then his confidence will really begin to take a hit and we could see the last of gasps of a champion that was.


If that were to happen I think Red Bull will give a Dan’s car to Vettel not just a wing.


Don’t forget that both Hamilton, Alonso, and Raikonnen have been beaten by teammates. Hamilton and Raikonnen have both lost with the fasted car in field. Lest not start denegrating a strong career due to some strange form of prejudice. There are many strong drivers out there today, enjoy it.


When did Lewis have the fastest car? 2012? Garbage. A car’s worthless if it can’t finish races.


Exactly, when the car was reliable and the team didn’t screw him he did actually win. 2012 was an outstanding year in terms of Hamiltons performance, he was the only one that looked capable of defeating Vettel. Those that look at points only are missing the big picture.


Fastest car in 2012. Reliability and team blunders are a different story.


hamilton has never been beaten by his teammate. 2011 was not due to his teammate being faster and we all know it. 2007 was due to the fact that hamilton was faster.


I beg to differ as JF says points don’t lie


go and ask button if he outdrove hamilton in 2011. or have a look at their lap times and you will find the truth. if button finishing with more points is your victory then please don’t stop celebrating because you will never see that again.


Points don’t lie. Button finished higher in 2011.


When exactly was Hamilton not able to win when armed with the fastest car in the field – and don’t include times when a win wasn’t possible because of mechanical failures or team stuff ups.


Surely this isnotthe best way to identify if there is an issue. RB should follows Williams of 92 were Mansell jumped into a suposedly bad car driven by Patrese and promptly went faster than ever.

Vetel and Ricciardo shouldjust swop cars… then you would quickly see if its a car problem or not… much cheaper..

All revved-up



A great article and welcome insight into this area of F1. Many websites only cover the fact that Seb is changing chassis’ and do not actually go into much explanation surrounding such moves and areas of chassis management other than driver preference and superstition (which makes for good news but doesn’t really provide any real solid information).

Great work James, Mark and the crew, much appreciated.


So taking the comments of Red Bull’s Chief Designer Rob Marshall and Red Bull’s Chief Driver Sebastian Vettel together, the use of this brand new, old chassis is just a routine, scheduled sanity check?

Rob Marshall: “Sebastian will get a new chassis for Barcelona, which was scheduled at the start of the season and then the next one will be for Dan, some time around Silverstone. From our point of view we’d rather give them one or two new chassis during the season that we have been able to check out in the factory using various testing methods. Normally we make four or five chassis during the year, maybe six, so it wouldn’t be unusual for each driver to change at least once or twice during the year. Normally they would use at least two.”

Sebastian Vettel: “We concluded after China, where we were quite a little bit behind, to change the chassis, so actually it’s not a new chassis, it’s an old one that we used in testing in the winter, and we have some experience with it. It’s more a sanity check rather than a real problem with the other chassis. So it’s just to try everything we can and basically reset and start again.”

Why do Red Bull lie all the time?


Red Bull gives you lie 🙂 ahem wings…


Sebastian was scheduled to get a new chassis at Barcelona.

The new chassis he is getting is an old one they used in testing and have familiarity with, which must be slightly different to the new one he got in Australia.

It’s not so much lying as it is everyone reading so much into what people from Red Bull say and trying to pin them for lying, cheating, manipulating etc….

Its getting so damn tiresome. Im sure if Dan was scheduled for the new chassis there’d be a chorus of “They’re doing it because he’s upstaging Vettel and needs to be reigned back in, so they’ll give him something he hasn’t driven and see if it brings back the status quo”


One of the two you mention above has a reputation for lying or changing the story to suit the moment. I’m sure you know which one.


Really– perhaps different, or new to race use, would have been more proper IF the second chassis was not newly constructed. People really need not to overreact. I know that many hate the team that is the most successful but, if it wasn’t RedBull it would someone else.


“Why do Red Bull lie all the time?”

Probably for the same reason everyone else does; misdirection.




Fair point. Let me rephrase. Why are Red Bull so careless with their lies? They don’t even lie consistently from one day to the next. It’s as if they think we’re too stupid to notice. At least with Ferrari you can just assume that everything is a lie. You know where you are then. The fans deserve better lies.


At least they don’t lie to race stewards. Or to the FIA.

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