Horner: Cost cap wind tunnel penalty already hurting Red Bull

Christian Horner said Red Bull F1 have been significantly limited by the aero testing penalty after the cost cap breach


Christian Horner has claimed Red Bull are already struggling with car development thanks to their wind tunnel penalty for the 1.6 million dollar cost cap breach they committed in 2021.

Horner‘s comments come after F1 Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds exclusively told Total Motorsport he expected Red Bull will feel the effect of the penalty, which means the 2022 constructors champions have 17% less wind tunnel time than Mercedes for 2023.

“It’s limiting significantly, the amount of runs that we can do in our wind tunnel over each quarter,” Horner said. “And I think that the team are they’re having to adapt to that we’re probably 25 percent almost of the way through that penalty, and of course it has an effect.

“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.”

While they cantered to both championships in 2022, the penalty is from the 2021 season which Red Bull won in much more controversial circumstances.

After ‘human error’ from then-Race Director Michael Masi decided the drivers’ championship in favour of Max Verstappen, it emerged in October 2022 that Red Bull had breached the 147.4 million dollar cost cap on the way to that title.

Under the new regulations for 2022 Red Bull were already facing a reduction in aero testing capacity – wind tunnel runs and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) items – in an attempt to improve competitiveness in F1.

However, instead of a 5 percent deficit in aero testing, they now face a 12 percent gap to Ferrari, 17 percent to Mercedes and a whopping 52 percent to backmarkers Williams.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen celebrates winning 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the world championship with team principal Christian Horner | REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Horner: Cost cap rules advantage engine constructors

Despite his team falling victim to the cost cap regulations at the first time of asking, Horner praised the effect the cost cap had on F1.

The cap reduces to 135 million dollars in 2023, but Horner said he felt it was advantaging teams who produce their own power units.

“I think that the regulations are still very immature, they’re only in their second year,” Horner added. “I think principally, it is a good thing for Formula 1, and it does create a more level playing field – I think there’s 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’s certain things that I think need balancing up so there is a consistency across those caps. 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.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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