Does US GP prove Red Bull cost cap penalty has been effective?

Max Verstappen in the Red Bull finished just 2.2s ahead of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton at the 2023 United States GP


Max Verstappen secured one of his hardest-fought wins of the season at the 2023 United States Grand Prix, prevailing over MercedesLewis Hamilton and McLaren‘s Lando Norris more thanks to Red Bull‘s strategy than dominant pace.

Verstappen was only two seconds ahead of Hamilton at the chequered flag having trailed Norris for the whole of his first stint starting sixth on the grid, with the RB19 finally being pegged back thanks in part to their limited wind tunnel time to test upgrades.

Red Bull would’ve already had less aerodynamic testing time than the rest of the grid, but that’s been compounded by a further 10% reduction as punishment for breaching the cost cap in 2021.

“Yeah our latest update has already been a while,” Verstappen told the media. “Clearly because at the moment they’re catching and it’s going to be interesting to see where everyone is going to be next year at the first race.

“Those are the rules, right? When you’re the leading team you have less wind tunnel time and honestly, I think it’s it’s correct. It’s good for the sport and time will tell of course, how competitive we’re all going to be next year.”

Verstappen expects F1 pack to close in 2024

Verstappen added he’s interested to see how competitive the other nine F1 teams are at the 2024 Bahrain GP, the pack definitely tightening at the end of 2023.

Max Verstappen of Red Bull and Charles Leclerc of Ferrari battle for position into Turn 1 at the start of 2023 US GP Sprint Race | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

The sprint shootout in Austin saw four drivers from four different teams separated by just a tenth of a second, while Verstappen was unable to pull away from Hamilton and Norris in the grand prix.

Red Bull‘s last major upgrade came in Hungary where Verstappen won by 33 seconds, but most F1 fans are hoping those gaps will be a thing of the past if the cost cap penalty bites as intended for 2024.

“I think the good thing is that the rules are not really changing,” Verstappen added. “So whatever you do now, I still think you’re learning a lot for next year anyway. So it’s not like you’re focusing fully on this year and then suddenly you need to rebuild for next year.

“So I think it’s absolutely correct what Mercedes is doing as well to try and understand more of their car. For sure we are working on next year, but at the same time we’re also trying to continue to improve the package that we that we’ve got at the moment.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for 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 and 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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