Max Verstappen has played down the impact the reduction in wind tunnel time will have on his and Red Bull‘s 2023 Formula 1 world championship hopes.
The Milton Keynes-based outfit sparked massive controversy when they were the only team found guilty of overspending during the first year of the sport’s cost-cutting measures introduced in 2021.
To make matters worse, the Dutchman won a razor-thin season-long duel with Lewis Hamilton in contentious circumstances, which left many calling for the end result to be reversed and labelling Red Bull as ‘cheats’.
In the end they were penalised, to the tune of $7 million and a 10 percent reduction in the time they are allowed to spend in their wind tunnel during the 2023 season, something which is seen as crucial to success, especially in the new era of ground-effect cars.
But while team boss Christian Horner called the verdict “draconian”, others took the view that Red Bull got off lightly.
Whatever the case, the reigning world champion admitted it wasn’t something anyone in the team was wasting any energy on, as anticipation ramps up for the first race in Bahrain.
“You know, we don’t even really talk about it in factory,” Verstappen said at the launch of Red Bull‘s RB19. “We’re just very focused on the performance side.
“We know how much time we have [in the wind tunnel] and we spend that time and we are not really thinking about. We have less time and we just have to work harder in the time we have.
“I think we have a lot of very competent people in our factory. And of course, it makes things a little bit harder. But I also look at it like this, I prefer to be in the position we are in than always finishing second because that’s way more depressing.
“So we have a lot of good people and I’m sure we have to be a little bit more precise with what we’re doing in the wind tunnel. But I don’t expect it to be a big limiting factor in if we’re going to win the title or not.”
‘Very happy to have Ricciardo on board’
Something that could help the team’s cause behind the scenes is the return of Daniel Ricciardo as the reserve driver.
The Australian penned a deal to rejoin Red Bull, whom he drove for from 2014 to 2018, after his dismal spell at McLaren was cut short before the end of his contract.
Verstappen and Ricciardo spent two full seasons together in 2017 and ’18 and the Dutchman is looking forward to reuniting with his former teammate once again.
Asked about what Ricciardo brings to the table, Verstappen added: “I think his smile, his attitude. He’s always been a professional and a super nice guy to work with as well as a teammate.
“But I think also for the whole team and also back at the factory for the people working in the simulators, to rely on his experience. You know, he’s raced in formula 1 for a very long time.
“He’s a race winner, so yeah, we were very happy to have him on board, that’s for sure.”