Christian Horner warns 2023 Red Bull competition cannot be ‘underestimated’

Thomas Maher
Christian Horner, Toto Wolff and Mattia Binotto. Monaco, May 2019.

Red Bull's Christian Horner, Mercedes' Toto Wolff and Ferrari's Mattia Binotto speaking at the Monaco Grand Prix. Monaco, May 2019.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner isn’t dismissing any of the top teams from fighting for the titles in 2023, despite the RB18’s dominance in ’22.

Despite the fact that Red Bull romped their way easily to both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championship in 2022, Horner believes it would be premature to rule out the likes of Mercedes or Ferrari striking back next season.

The first year of the revolutionary new ruleset in Formula 1 saw Red Bull kick off the new era with the fastest overall package on track – a weapon Max Verstappen wielded to peerless effect en route to 15 Grand Prix victories during the season.

But 2023 sees the teams get an opportunity to rectify weaknesses in their car designs, particularly early missteps with the new book of regulations. This means that it’s quite possible a team that struggled in 2022 could take a significant step forward next year.

It’s a fact that Horner acknowledged during an interview with Red Bull-owned ServusTV on ‘Sport and Talk from Hangar-7’.

“You can’t underestimate anyone next year,” he said, highlighting the strengths of Mercedes, as well as hinting at expecting a step forward from Ferrari as their F1-75 is evolved under the watchful eye of new team boss Frederic Vasseur.

“[Mercedes] will come back strong and have two fast drivers,” he said.

“The Ferraris will also be strong, they already had a fast car in 2022.”

Adrian Newey reveals how reduction in wind tunnel testing may hinder Red Bull

One key stumbling block for Red Bull in 2023 is a 10% reduction in wind tunnel testing time – part of their punishment handed out for breaching the 2021 Financial Regulations (ie. the budget cap).

While it’s unlikely to have an effect on the initial design of the RB19, the development of the car throughout the year could be hindered by the loss of aero testing to correlate the theory with the reality of a design.

“The reduction in wind tunnel testing means we can therefore evaluate less different components, less different ideas,” chief technical officer Adrian Newey said during a recent interview with The 10 Group.

“If we’re really smart and always put on the right things on the model, then it doesn’t make much difference. But Ferrari won’t be resting, they will be sorting out their weak areas.

“They had a couple of reliability problems, they obviously made a couple of pitwall mistakes, so they’ll be right back.

“Then, obviously, we saw Mercedes starting with a car that was quite a long way off the pace and evolving it to the point they won the last race but one. So we know they will be right there, it’s going to be a tough year for sure.”

Read More: Why wind tunnel reduction is a bigger deal for Red Bull than piffling fine