Christian Horner’s penalty prediction after FIA’s ‘colonoscopy’ of Red Bull accounts

Henry Valantine
Red Bull boss Christian Horner arrives at the Mexican Grand Prix.

Christian Horner will meet with an independent lawyer in London.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes the team’s cost cap penalty has not had its “full impact” yet, which could lead into 2024 – and the scrutiny surrounding theirs and every team’s accounts this year amounted to a “full colonoscopy”.

Red Bull were found to have breached the sport’s budget cap in their 2021 accounts, which led to a $7million fine and 10% reduction in aerodynamic testing allowance, a direct impact on the time the team could spend in their wind tunnel this season.

Horner revealed Red Bull have had to work around that as a result, and that “thankfully” the pace in the RB19 allowed them to put focus on their 2024 car early.

Red Bull believe ‘full impact’ of 2021 budget cap penalty is yet to be felt

Horner predicted last year when the team’s penalty was announced that the eventual sporting ramifications could cost Red Bull around half a second per lap in car development.

And the team boss explained that the reduction in wind tunnel time has had a material impact on what Red Bull have been able to do, though having an extremely strong baseline in the RB19 has allowed the team to focus on the RB20 early, putting what resources they were allowed into that early on.

But even though Red Bull will have more development capacity next year, having been found in compliance with the 2022 cost cap – along with every other team – Horner believes the 2021 penalty has not fully hit them yet.

Within that, he praised the rigour with which the FIA conducted their investigation into the cost cap, though he did use a colourful metaphor to illustrate it.

“Well, certainly, you’ve not seen the full impact yet because it obviously has compromised the amount of development that we’ve been able to do this year,” Horner told reporters in Mexico when asked about how Red Bull’s cost cap penalty has affected them this year.

“Thankfully, we came out with a very strong car at the beginning of the year and we’ve been able to apply most of that development time from quite early in the season to next year’s car, so that’s been important.

“I think the process of the cost cap is evolving. It’s a very complex set of regulations that have evolved and the degree of scrutiny this year was, phenomenal in terms of the rigour that the FIA went to – it was a full colonoscopy that we experienced during the summer.

“I think that the FIA are learning as well from their side and the rules have evolved and, of course, every company is structured in a slightly different way as well, which adds to the complexity, whether you’ve got subsidiary accounts or what your reporting group is, for example, and so that has a bearing as well.

“So it’s a very complex set of regs, and I think the FIA have actually done a pretty decent job of what we’ve seen over the last 12 months.”

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Much of the season has been spent with several teams in a chasing pack behind Red Bull, with Aston Martin, Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren having all had times as ‘best of the rest’ this season.

Horner explained that, while these teams have been catching up to the reigning World Champions, he confirmed that the team have been putting a significant part of their resources into their 2024 challenger at an early stage.

“You have to remember that since the summer break we’ve really added very little performance, if anything, to the car,” he stated.

“With the wind tunnel restrictions that we’ve had, we’ve elected to use that on RB20, next year’s car, as opposed to continuing the development on our RB19.

“And that’s not to say whatever we do now we don’t learn and apply for next year, but we’ve managed to be consistent at a whole variance of circuits.

“It was great to get the win last weekend, it was great to win the sprint race in what has just been a truly remarkable season for us.”

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