Max Verstappen has his say on looming impact of budget cap penalty

Michelle Foster
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen at the Belgian Grand Prix. Spa-Francorchamps, August 2022.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen at the Belgian Grand Prix. Spa-Francorchamps, August 2022.

Max Verstappen is backing Red Bull to minimise the impact of their budget cap penalty, the reigning World Champion hoping the team will instead use it as “extra motivation” for next season.

Last month, after weeks of speculation, the FIA confirmed Red Bull had breached the 2021 budget cap on their way to the Drivers’ Championship title.

Guilty of overspending by $2.2million, the team was hit with a $7million fine while also losing 10 per cent of next year’s car development time in the wind tunnel and CFD.

It is the latter that is expected to have the biggest impact, Red Bull’s already limited wind tunnel time for winning this year’s Constructors’ Championship further slashed.

Toto Wolff summed up the punishment, saying “for us it’s too little, for them it will be too much”.

How much, though, Verstappen cannot say.

“It will affect us but how much, I don’t know yet,” the reigning World Champion told the media in Brazil.

“But I’m confident the team and the people we have can use that as extra motivation to try and do even better. I know, of course, they always give their best.

“But we have a very competitive car, we have a lot of great ideas, I think already for next year as well with the car and hopefully it will be enough.”

Doubts over Christian Horner’s ‘0.5s’ prediction

Verstappen’s team boss reckons losing the R&D time could cost Red Bull up to half a second per lap.

Speaking in a press conference after the punishment was announced, the Briton said: “I hear people say it’s not a severe penalty, but 10 per cent less wind tunnel time and other aerodynamic tools is a draconian penalty.

“That can cost 0.25sec to 0.5sec [per lap]. It will have an impact on our ability to perform on track next year.”

However, Mercedes team boss Wolff says it is premature to put a number to the price Red Bull could pay.

“I think any reduction in wind tunnel time will be detrimental,” he said. “How detrimental is difficult to judge at this stage.”

Ferrari, meanwhile, believe Red Bull’s overspend is “worth around a couple of tenths” with Laurent Mekies saying “we at Ferrari do not understand how the 10 per cent reduction of the ATR [aerodynamic testing restrictions] can correspond to the same amount of lap time” Red Bull gained.

But whatever the consequence of the limited wind tunnel time, former F1 driver Hans-Joachim Stuck does not believe it will be felt until 2024.

“Converting the penalty into a number I think is exaggerated, you have to see that first,” he told ServusTV’s ‘Sport and Talk from Hangar-7’.

“I am convinced Red Bull Racing are already so far ahead in planning that it will only have an impact the year after next.

“They are definitely in a good position there.”

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