Christian Horner was on Sky Sports News to respond to Fred Vasseur’s comments regarding the penalty meted out to Red Bull for the 2021 budget cap breach.
Red Bull, despite comfortably leading both World Championship tables after the first three races of the season, are working with significantly less wind-tunnel time than their competitors this year – part of their penalty for breaching the 2021 budget cap rules.
Towards the end of 2022, Red Bull’s Minor Overspend Breach during 2021 was uncovered during the FIA’s audits of the first season with the new Financial Regulations, with the team given a $7 million fine and a 10% reduction in wind-tunnel development time.
This reduction was on Red Bull’s already significantly reduced testing time, as F1’s Aerodynamic Testing Rules sliding scale gives the reigning World Champion team the fewest hours of the entire grid.
Given how well Red Bull have started the 2023 season, it led Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur to speculate that the penalty handed down to Red Bull was “too light”.
“If you consider the rate of development that we have during the season, the fact that if you have a 10% ban at the end – it’s not something linear,” he said during the Australian GP weekend.
“And then you can spend what you are saving somewhere else on weight saving and so on. I’m not sure the effect is mega. And if you consider [also] that you have an advantage at the beginning of the season because you spend more the year before…
“If you ask me if the penalty is too light, I say yes.”
Christian Horner: Everyone’s free to have an opinion
Appearing on Sky Sports News, Horner reacted to Vasseur’s comments, highlighting that the RB19 has been developed with particularly limited wind-tunnel time and that the lack of testing time will eventually make itself felt as the season progresses with updates introduced by other teams.
“Everybody’s got an opinion and I think everybody’s free to have an opinion,” he said.
“The team have done a great job over the winter on limited wind-tunnel time that we’ve had to develop this car, and of course, that will have an impact later into the year and on next year.
“So on a snapshot of three races, I think it’s still hugely premature in (terms of) this season, there’s an awful lot of racing still to go.”
While the full effects of the penalty are yet to make themselves evident as Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have won all three races comfortably so far in 2023, Christian Horner said his team are keeping their nose to the grindstone with full awareness of the deficit in testing time.
“There’s a lot of things that can change,” Horner said. “We’re hearing of big updates coming for both Ferrari and Mercedes when we get back to Europe.
“So we’re certainly not taking anything for granted, we’re just focused on ourselves, doing the best job we can within the constraints that we have.
“We’re doing the best that we can with what we’ve got and we know that it’s a tough penalty, it’s one that we’re taking on the chin and we’re applying ourselves in the best way that we possibly can.”