Christian Horner scoffs at Lewis Hamilton’s car development deadline suggestion

Thomas Maher
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner at the Austrian Grand Prix. Spielberg, June 2023.

Red Bull's Christian Horner has put forward a solution to the sprint format.

Christian Horner believes it would be impossible to police Lewis Hamilton’s suggestion regarding teams beginning car development.

The seven-time World Champion suggested that teams should be prevented from starting development of next year’s car until a set date during the season in order to prevent dominant teams from locking in an advantage.

The suggestion was made in the context of a team like Red Bull, the fastest team in F1, sacrificing 2022 development due to their baked-in speed, in order to begin development on the 2023 car before any of the other teams can make that switch.

What did Lewis Hamilton say regarding car development?

Speaking on Thursday in Austria, Hamilton suggested a start date for every team to begin car development.

“I think the FIA should probably put a time when everyone is allowed to start developing for the next year’s car,” Hamilton proposed to Sky F1.

“So [say], August 1, that’s when everybody can start, so that no one can get an advantage from the next year. Because that sucks.”

Hamilton’s suggestion led to Max Verstappen pointing out that he hadn’t come forth with such a suggestion when Mercedes were the dominant team between 2014 and 2020.

“We weren’t talking about that when he was winning his Championships, right? So I don’t think we should now,” Verstappen told Sky F1. “That’s how Formula 1 works.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

Lewis Hamilton willing to sacrifice major achievement for F1 2024 title push

Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc offer unique ideas on how to fix track limits complaints

Hamilton then clarified that he hadn’t intended it to be aimed at anyone, saying: “It’s not like aimed at any one particular person or anything. It’s just that obviously in my 17 years of being here… before even I got here, you would see periods of dominance.

“It continues to happen. I think as a sport, we do at some stage – I was really fortunate to have one of those periods that Max is having now but with the way it’s going, it will continue to happen over and over again.

“And I don’t think we need that in the sport. Just from my personal experience, when you’re so far ahead, you’re 100 points ahead, you don’t really need to do a lot more development on your car, so you can start earlier on your next car.”

Christian Horner: It would be incredibly hard to police

Asked about Hamilton’s suggestion in the team principals’ press conference on Friday, Horner said it would be impossible to prevent teams from starting to work on the next car at any point they feel like.

“Well, he’s obviously talking from personal experience!” Horner smiled, when asked about the suggestion.

“I think it would be an incredibly hard thing to police. How on earth could you say ‘Right, August 1, go!’

“How do you prevent people thinking about or working on next year’s cars?”

Horner said the introduction of the Aerodynamic Testing Rules sliding scale that hinders aero testing time for leading teams will have far more effect as the current regulations mature.

“We have a handicap system in Formula 1 through the reduction of wind tunnel time that there is,” he said.

“[AlphaTauri] has almost double the amount of time that we have – so that is a significant handicap and I think Aston Martin will start to feel that as it’s reset at the mid-point of the year. And for us, we have to pick and choose very, very sparingly, what are we going to commit to putting through the wind tunnel?

“So, it will have an effect, and that system didn’t exist years ago, so we will see that playing, and I think the most important thing, and the history of Formula 1 demonstrates it, is stability.

“Not messing with the regulations will always create convergence, and I think it’s just a period of time before… You can see that convergence is already starting to happen, I think. By the time we get to the end of ’25, probably all the teams will be very converged, and then we screw it all up and go again in ’26.”

Read Next: The huge sacrifice Red Bull would have to make to sign Lewis Hamilton alongside Max Verstappen