Christian Horner: Red Bull budget-cap penalty ‘could cost half a second a lap’

Jon Wilde
Red Bull principal Christian Horner looking sad. Hungary, July 2022.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner looking sad in a press conference. Hungary, July 2022.

Christian Horner has claimed the non-financial part of Red Bull’s penalty for breaching the 2021 cost cap could cost up to half a second of lap time next year.

After weeks of speculation, initially about whether Red Bull had breached the budget cap and then, when it had been confirmed they had done so, what the punishment would be, the sanction was finally revealed by the FIA on the opening day of the Mexico City Grand Prix weekend.

For breaking the spending limit by $2.2million (approx. 1.5%) – although various mitigating factors reduced that amount to a breach of just 0.37% – the penalty amounted to a $7million fine and a 10% reduction in Red Bull’s car development time next year, in respect of their wind tunnel and CFD quota.

In saying his team – who have already wrapped up this season’s Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships – have decided to take the penalties “on the chin” and “begrudgingly settle”, Horner feels there could be serious implications for their performance during the 2023 campaign.

“I hear people say it’s not a severe penalty, but 10 per cent less wind tunnel time and other aerodynamic tools is a draconian penalty,” said the Red Bull team principal during a press conference at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

“That can cost 0.25sec to 0.5sec [per lap]. It will have an impact on our ability to perform on track next year.”

Horner also described the $7million fine as “an enormous amount of money” – but insisted none of the overspend had gone or car development.

“I stand by the statement that there was zero benefit – not one penny [of the overspend] was spent on the performance of the car,” said Horner.

“Did we see any on-track performance? No, we didn’t. Are there things we could do better from an accounting perspective? Of course there are lessons that could be learned but not just on our side, I think on all sides.

“I’m astounded no other teams have found themselves in this position but good for them that eight have fully complied.”

Horner was thereby making reference to Aston Martin having been fined $450,000 for a procedural breach of the financial regulations – and believes the punishment his own team have received will only renew their determination to further succeed.

“We might have lost 10% in ATR [Aerodynamic Testing Restrictions] but I think we’ve gained 25% in motivation from every single staff member at Milton Keynes,” he added.

Read more: The full FIA report into Red Bull’s 2021 budget cap breach