Red Bull’s Christian Horner says 2023 car development is already hurting at his team due to its cost cap punishment handed out by the FIA.
Red Bull were handed a $7 million fine for their breach of the 2021 Financial Regulations, uncovered during 2022 during the FIA’s analysis of each team’s spend during the first year of the budget cap which restricted team’s performance-relevant expenditure to $145 million.
Having been found to have overspent, discussions between the FIA and Red Bull resulted in the formal verdict being Red Bull’s acceptance of a Minor Overspend Breach of 1.6%. This resulted in them being handed the second-highest financial penalty ever handed out to a team in the sport, as well as having a percentage reduction in their wind tunnel and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) time over 2023.
This is set to have an impact on Red Bull’s 2023 car development, with Christian Horner explaining how the penalty is already affecting the outright performance of the machine Max Verstappen will use to defend his two consecutive driver’s titles.
“We’re probably 25% almost of the way through that penalty and, of course, it has an effect,” Horner told RACER’s Chris Medland.
“It’s limiting, significantly, the amount of runs that we can do in our wind tunnel over each quarter. And I think that the team are having to adapt to that. It just means you have to be a bit more focused, and more disciplined in what we put through the testing process within the tunnel or within our simulation tools.
“So it’s another challenge. And it’s a handicap for sure, coming into this year, but we’ve got very capable people that are looking to obviously extract the best that we possibly can and apply ourselves in the most efficient and effective way.”
Christian Horner: Cost cap has brought efficiency to Formula 1
Despite being one of three teams, the others being Aston Martin and Williams, to have fallen foul of the 2021 Financial Regulations, Horner has explained that he remains a big fan of the new cost cap era.
“I think the principle of it is great and it’s driven efficiency,” he commented.
“If I look at the business now, compared to where it was four or five years ago, we’d have ended up with a lot of stock of spare parts that were brand new that had never been used, and then they’re just scrapped. And so now you just can’t afford to have that. You’ve got to be so effective and efficient.
“So I think from that point of view, it has driven great efficiency into the business. It’s got rid of that wastage that was there that nobody saw previously.”
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Red Bull boss believes regulations still need refinement
Having been unknowingly tripped up by the wording of the 2021 Financial Regulations, Horner pointed out that the rules require further refinement over the coming seasons as grey areas are clarified.
“I think that the regulations are still very immature, they’re only in their second year,” he said.
“So they’re still evolving, and being tuned and as they’re being introduced into the power unit side of the business as well – I think principally, it is a good thing for Formula 1, and it does create a more level playing field – I think there are certain elements that still need to be to be tuned.
“At the moment, we’re seeing a discrepancy between chassis financial regs and engine financial regs that, on the chassis side, they can have a Christmas party, on the power unit side, they can’t! So there are certain things that I think need balancing up so there is a consistency across those caps. But I think on the whole, it’s a very positive thing.
“I think that perhaps there is still too much weight put upon them in that we’re still designing very expensive engines and very expensive cars, because the technical regs drive you towards that. And I think the technical and sporting regs, I think particularly on the chassis for 2026, we need to look more at the cost drivers which are driven through those technical regs, which will then in turn put less pressure on the budget cap itself.”