Christian Horner bemoans ‘painful’ wind tunnel penalty for Red Bull

Henry Valantine
Christian Horner watches on from the garage. Barcelona, May 2022.

Red Bull's Christian Horner observes from inside the team's garage during the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, May 2022.

Christian Horner admitted Red Bull’s penalty for breaching the budget cap will be a “painful” one, but the team will be doing what they can to minimise the damage.

Red Bull dominated last season with 17 wins from 22 races, but face an additional hit to their 2023 development plans after their minor overspend breach of the budget cap from 2021 resulted in a $7million fine from the FIA, as well as a 10% reduction in the number of wind tunnel runs available to them this season.

While the reigning Drivers’ and Constructors’ champions are likely to be able to build the base of their 2023 car as planned, this penalty will limit the amount they will be able to do to potentially improve the car as the season progresses, potentially leaving open the opportunity for the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes to develop their cars at a faster rate.

This will mean the full effects of the penalty are likely to take time for Red Bull to feel in full, with Horner having previously predicted it could cost them up to half a second per lap in pace.

He also feels the team are well-positioned to be able to deal with the punishment, despite the metaphorical draining of part of their resources.

“Of course it’s painful,” Horner told Speedcafe’s KTM Summer Grill show about their wind tunnel penalty.

“It forces us to be efficient and very choosy in the runs that we do. So yeah, it’s just something that we’ve got to manage.

“It certainly is a handicap rather than a benefit, so let’s see how it plays out. But we’ll be doing everything that we can to mitigate the damage that it could potentially cause.”

Red Bull’s approximate $2.2m overspend came in the first year of Formula 1’s budget cap regulations, with teams given a set $145million budget under which to operate for the season.

The cap was reduced to $140m for 2022 and is due to be reduced again for the next three years, down to $135m as the sport looks to become more financially sustainable for its teams.

Horner believes some of the rules will “evolve” as more is understood about them, however, and that some of the restrictions have perhaps even gone too far in constricting how teams can spend their money.

“I think the technical regulations and the sporting regulations are really where the main cost drivers are and the financial regulations try to capture that cost,” he explained.

“That was the first year of the financial regs in ’21. Those regulations need to evolve, there’s some things in them that need to be tidied up that [are] perhaps a little too restrictive, which will stifle investment and investment in youth in the sport and even initiatives like sustainability.

“So we just need to have a sensible look at these regulations as they continue to evolve and I’m confident that the FIA and FOM will do that.”

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