Red Bull must seize the opportunity they have to extend their points lead over their rivals before they feel the impact of their reduced aerodynamic testing allocation, says team principal Christian Horner.
As the reigning world champions, under Formula 1’s performance-balancing aerodynamic testing regulations, Red Bull are permitted the least wind tunnel and Computational Fluid Dynamics development time of any team.
Their allocation was further cut last year when the team was found to have exceeded F1’s budget cap during the 2021 season. The team was originally limited to 70% of the reference total of wind tunnel runs and CFD simulations. Their budget cap penalty reduced that to 63%.
Nonetheless the team has begun 2023 in a strong position. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have won two grands prix apiece and the team have more than twice as many constructors’ championship points as their closest rival.
Horner says Red Bull must keep on shoring up their advantage before the likes of Aston Martin, Mercedes and Ferrari begin to close.
“At the moment it’s the two of them, there’s a slight gap between the rest of the field, but there’s 19 more races to go and five sprint races.
“So there’s a huge amount of racing, there’s a whole variance of different circuits to go through, so it could ebb and flow between the two of them – reliability will be a big factor. And of course what we’re more focused on as well at the moment is building a buffer with both of the drivers because when we get back to Europe, I’m sure there’s going to be sizeable upgrades, and of course we have a reduced capacity to develop. So that’s where our focus is trying to build a gap.”
Red Bull’s penalty means it may conduct 201 wind tunnels runs to 240 for Ferrari, 256 for Mercedes and 320 for Aston Martin. “We have just a limited amount of runs, so you have to be selective,” said Horner.
“You can’t run so many iterations. You’ve got to focus on the things that we really want to look at. So it’s being a lot more selective in what you’re able to research.”
*Due to their penalty for exceeding the budget cap in 2021, Red Bull’s allocation this year is reduced from 70% to 63%
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