Horner believes it will be difficult for Red Bull to develop its 2023 F1 car which will put the team at a disadvantage, especially compared to rivals Mercedes who have already revealed a very aggressive development plan. With a cost cap to be strictly adhered to and the application of a budget overrun penalty in 2021, Red Bull will find it very difficult to continue developing its 2023 car at a sustained pace, according to Christian Horner.
Red Bull chief executive Christian Horner admits it will be more difficult for his team to maintain its advantage over its rivals for long due to the “cultural change” in the sport, with the introduction of the cost cap, alongside the wind tunnel and CFD restrictions they are facing this year.
Red Bull is off to a strong start to the 2023 season after winning the first three races of the calendar, meaning the Milton Keynes-based team is currently comfortably at the top of the constructors’ standings with 123 points – 58 points ahead of closest rivals Aston Martin, followed by Mercedes and Ferrari in third and fourth respectively.
Big restrictions on Red Bull
However, in addition to the cost cap limiting their spending, Red Bull also have the least amount of wind tunnel and CFD time this season as defending champions. This has been further reduced by the penalties they have received from the FIA for failing to meet the 2021 cost cap – further hampering their ability to develop the RB19 this campaign.
“I think it’s going to be very difficult for us to develop this car, because when you look at the percentage of time we have less than some of our rivals, it’s significant. It’s significant,” Horner said.
“But that’s the way it is. We just have to do the best with what we have, be efficient, effective and selective in what we choose to develop and how we allocate our time.”
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Different mindset required
The British man acknowledges that the sport has undergone a profound cultural change with the introduction of the capped budget and that teams now have to think differently in terms of development, the Red Bull penalty aside.
“It has been a total cultural change [because of the cost cap] over the last two years. It’s a new challenge in Formula 1, to know how you apply your resources.”
“Previously it was a sprint in terms of developing a car as quickly as possible with the budget you could get.”
“Now it’s more about how and where you apply your resources, and of course there are so many variables like crash damage that can have a massive effect on your development potential. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out this year.”
Mercedes aggressive development
Mercedes aims for more aggressive development than Red Bull says team boss Toto Wolff.
The Mercedes team knows it will have to be much more aggressive than Red Bull in terms of development throughout the year if it is to catch up with the Milton Keynes team.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is well aware that after the first three races his team has not made the desired start to the season, but the Austrian insists Mercedes will have to “stay the course” over the next few races as several updates are introduced to the W14.
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“encouraged by progress”
After the first three Grands Prix of the year, Mercedes sits third in the constructors’ championship, nine points behind Aston Martin, and when Toto Wolff was asked to give an initial assessment of his team’s start to the season, the Austrian said he was rather encouraged by the progress.
“In terms of the development of the car, it’s encouraging to see that in three races we have a much better understanding of the car, we have a clear direction of where we need to go and I think we are on the right track,” said Wolff.
“We need to consolidate our understanding and hopefully in the next few races we can take the next step.
“It’s also important to stay on course and not swing too much between exuberance and depression; to stay rational and believe in our trajectory, to believe in the team’s ability. There will be setbacks but there will also be updates and a lot of work that will help us get closer to the front.”
Outdevelop Red Bull
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, when asked what the short-term goals are for the team and then what the longer-term goals are, the Austrian replied: “We understand the knowledge we need to move up.”
“We need to have a steeper development curve than Red Bull and fundamentally we want to compete for race wins.”
“They are now setting the benchmark. We trust the process and the people, and there will be setbacks. But if the trajectory is upwards, that’s where we want to head.”
“We will be making regular improvements to the car over the next few races. But there is no quick fix that transforms the car, and it’s about being realistic with your expectations. I hope we will see a steady improvement.”
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It is a game the two play. First Wolff was saying they have a setback and they can’t catch up with RB, in the hope that he can hoodwink their competitors and get them to underestimate MB. In the 2nd and 3rd races, MB looked fully up to the task. If Ham could not win with that car, he will still not be capable of winning in upgraded cars.
Now it is the turn of Horner to sandbag on RB’s development. He would like to project an abject picture of helplessness only to skewer MB on track.
I am waiting to see other races this year to see who is the bigger liar!
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