Christian Horner admits Red Bull ‘handicapped’ by budget penalty

Horner opens up on Red Bull's 'barren spell' amid Mercedes dominance

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Christian Horner has admitted Red Bull’s budget cap penalty will be a major “handicap’ for 2023 in a blow to Max Verstappen’s title hopes. The Red Bull team principal stressed the penalty has “limited” the team’s development of their 2023 car just weeks before the new season.

Horner revealed the penalty has had a “significant” impact on the number of wind tunnel runs they can do which has proven to be an issue. However, Horner accepted his team is up for the challenge to make the best of the situation and still be competitive.

He told US site RACER: “We’re probably 25 per cent almost of the way through that penalty and, of course, it has an effect. 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.”

Red Bull were found to have exceeded the budget cap by around £432,000 ($500,000) towards the end of last season. As punishment, the team were slapped with a sizeable £6.3million ($7m) fine.

But more importantly, the team were also handed a 10 per cent reduction in wind tunnel testing and CFD development. At the time, Horner described the penalty as a “draconian” measure which could cost Verstappen and Sergio Perez around half a second per lap next year.

Some team bosses, including McLaren’s Zak Brown, had called for the team to be issued a reduction in finances for 2023 as further punishment. However, the team were only hit with a fine and sporting penalty as their infringement was only deemed to be a “minor” breach.

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But, F1 chief technical officer Pat Symonds has still suggested the sanction would have a major impact on the team’s preparation. He explained: “It would be quite hard to calculate because when you have a new set of regulations, then the rate of development is very high.

“So every 100 wind tunnel runs you do, you expect a couple of points of downforce normally and probably more than that in the regulations. So yeah, they will feel it definitely.”

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