Christian Horner wary of rule changes hurting Red Bull with their budget cap penalty

Michelle Foster
Red Bull RB19 detail as car is pushed down the pitlane. Bahrain February 2023

Red Bull RB19 detail as car is pushed down the pitlane. Bahrain February 2023

Docked an extra 10 percent of their R&D time under F1’s aerodynamic testing restrictions, Christian Horner says Red Bull won’t know the full impact of the penalty before next season.

But for now, it can be said, it’s not looking too bad for the Bahrain Grand Prix winners.

Red Bull went into this year’s championship facing a massive loss when it came to ATR time as their championship victory last season reduced their allotted time to just 70 percent of the overall time.

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

The budget cap penalty for overspending on their way to the 2021 Drivers’ Championship title meant they lost a further 10 percent of that 70, leaving them down at 63%.

To put it into simple numbers, Red Bull can only do 202 wind tunnel runs compared to Mercedes’ 256, and that’s time they have to split between developing this year’s car and designing next season’s.

As such Horner says the team won’t know until next season the full impact of the penalty.

“It is something you have to view over 12 months because it is not just this year’s car, it is also next year’s car,” he told media including in Bahrain.

“I think the really positive thing for us is that we are not dealing with a fundamental issue that soaks up that resource and time.

“It was vital for us to be able to cope with that penalty and to have a solid starting point. That is what the team has done a great job in achieving.”

He added: “I think it focuses everybody’s minds, and it drives efficiency. What we lost in wind tunnel time we gained in motivation.” recommends

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The team boss admits Red Bull will need to balance this year’s upgrades against next year’s car.

“We have another eight, nine months still to go with it,” he said. “It means that we’re going to have to be very selective and extremely efficient in how we develop this car and, of course, next year’s car.”

Right now the Briton is very much hoping nothing changes when it comes to next season’s rules as that could hurt Red Bull a great deal.

“It really depends if anything changes in the regulations,” he said.

“We’re expecting stable regulations but, of course, it is a disadvantage, a handicap, to have not only the incremental difference that you have by being in first place in the championship, and on top of that a further 10 percent.

“So we’re 15 percent less time than [Ferrari] and 20 percent less than Mercedes and so on. That’s a significant number.

“So for us it’s all about being efficient and being effective in what we apply and choose to test in the tunnel, and how we develop both the RB19 and the RB20 car.”

Red Bull’s worries aren’t without merit

Horner has every reason to be concerned about rule changes after last year’s decision to tweak the floors ahead of this year’s championship to minimise porpoising.

Although the regulations from 2022 into 2023 were expected to remain stable, that changed back in August when the FIA announced the floor edges would have to be raised by 15mm.

Mercedes pushed for the changes while Red Bull were adamant it wasn’t needed and that it was up to each individual team to fix their own problems.

The FIA backed Mercedes – and the drivers’ health – and stood firm in saying something had to be done, and it was.

And although there has been little sign of bouncing this season, the FIA has shown that it will take action if it feels it’s necessary. Red Bull had better hope they don’t see a reason to tweak next year’s regulations.