‘Red Bull shelved some 2022 upgrades as budget cap saga played out’

Michelle Foster
Logo illustration for Red Bull Racing at the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Logo illustration for Red Bull Racing.

Red Bull’s plans to upgrade their RB18 were put on hold as the team found itself in the midst of a budget cap scandal that had rivals baying for blood.

That’s according to a report on Formu1a.uno.

Late last month reports began to do the rounds suggesting Red Bull had breached last year’s budget cap, the team questioned about this at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Two weeks later the FIA confirmed they had in fact committed a minor overspend breach, the team exceeding the cap by $2.2 million.

Red Bull were not only fined $7 million but also have to forfeit 10 per cent of their 2023 aerodynamic development allowance after signing an Accepted Breach Agreement.

But Formu1a.uno says aside from having an impact on next year’s development, it also halted this year’s.

The Italian publication reports that Red Bull have been working on next year’s car for many weeks now and planned to run some upgrades intended for 2023 this year already.

“In an F1 without tests, the last few races would have been very useful to try some aerodynamic updates on the track that would have collected useful data for the 2023 car,” it claims.

But those upgrades “have been suspended”.

“The team, which ended up in the eye of the storm on the financial regulation part, decided to stop introducing updates on the RB18 after Singapore.

“According to Red Bull sources, in addition to the new lighter chassis, which carried out the crash tests in the summer but was never introduced, Red Bull would have continued the development of the RB18 with some innovations on the sides as well as other small innovations for the floor.”

Now reportedly none of those will be run this season.

Red Bull did reveal after the Singapore Grand Prix that they were done with major upgrades, chief technical officer Rob Marshall telling the F1 Nation podcast: “All focus is now fully on 2023. There are still some very minimal things to come, but there will be no major updates between now and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.”

Red Bull worried about a ‘0.5s’ drop in lap time

Christian Horner is already concerned about the cost the penalties will have on Red Bull, not so much the monetary fine but the loss of wind tunnel and CFD time.

As this year’s Constructors’ Champions the team will already have less development than their rivals, that number slashed to 63 per cent with the penalty.

“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,” said the Briton.

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

The team’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko says they cannot afford to make any mistakes with their limited wind tunnel runs.

“The penalty is tough,” Marko told Sky Deutschland, “but it’s just about the limit where we believe we can be competitive in the years to come despite the restrictions in the hours dedicated to wind tunnel.”

“It’s an enormous competitive disadvantage,” he continued.

“Our wind tunnel is one of the first to be built. In terms of the turnaround time and the sensitivity to heat, we need even longer before we can find the right one temperature as it’s not state of the art.

“We can’t miss a shot. What we take into the wind tunnel has to work. We can’t afford to make any mistakes.”

Red Bull’s penalty leaves them with just 202 runs in the wind tunnel compared to Ferrari at P2 in the championship with 240 runs next season and Mercedes, P3, permitted 256.