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F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Final Practice ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 19: Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner talks in a press conference during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on November 19, 2022 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Horner: Red Bull challenged by “significant handicap” with F1 wind tunnel restrictions

The Austrian team found themselves breaking the 2021 budget cap, spending over the designated limit, leading to punishments in the aero testing department ahead of the 2023 Formula 1 season

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes the team faces a “significant handicap” for the 2023 Formula 1 season due to the aerodynamic testing restrictions given after winning the Formula 1 championship and exceeding the budget cap.

F1 Grand Prix of Abu DhabiABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 20: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 leads Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on November 20, 2022 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Christian Horner
Red Bull were handed 10% less wind tunnel testing time after breaching the 2021 cost cap limits (Image Credit: Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

The budget cap was introduced ahead of the 2021 Formula 1 season. This was known as the ATR. The aim of the ATR was to bridge the gap between teams, creating a more competitive field.

Therefore, the ATR uses a sliding scale system based on team’s success. This is used with aerodynamic testing, regarding on how well a team has done the season before. With this system, Red Bull have been limited by 25% for their aerodynamic testing ahead of the 2023 season. A mixture of winning the 2022 constructors’ championship and breaching the 2021 cost cap is the cause.

Red Bull at a disadvantage for 2023

The 2022 season saw a straight fight between Red Bull and Ferrari during the first half of the season. Mercedes had dropped off after getting the new regulations wrong. However, the Silver Arrows improved significantly throughout the season, creating a potential three-way fight for the 2023 season.

Horner was asked by Motorsport.com how much harm the 25% reduction would be for the development of the RB19. The Red Bull boss believed that it had given the team a “significant handicap” to outperform Mercedes and Ferrari this year.

“We’re doing the best with what we’ve got,” the Briton said during their 2023 livery launch event in New York City, which also saw Ford announcing their technical and commercial partnership with the Austrian team.

“The team have had to adapt to the handicap that we have. They’ve done a wonderful job in doing that.

“Is it enough? We’ll find out in a couple of weeks’ time [in Bahrain testing and the first round of the season] as a starting point.

“It’s certainly a significant handicap that we carry for the majority of the year.

“But I think the team have obviously accepted it; we’ve looked to adapt to ensure we’re as efficient as we possibly can be.

“We’ll see when the RB19 runs on the track in anger if we’ve done enough.”

F1 Grand Prix Of USA01 Max Verstappen, Oracle Red Bull Racing, RB18, action 16 Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari, F1-75, action during the F1 Grand Prix of United States of America USA at Circuit of The Americas from October 20th to 23rd, 2022 in Austin, Texas.
Leclerc was Verstappen’s closest rival, but was nowhere near the Dutchman at the end of the 2022 season (Image Credit: Gongora/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Verstappen still has faith in the team

Max Verstappen has won two drivers’ world championships on the bounce during the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

Going into the 2023 season as the defending champion, the Dutchman admits the impact of the ATR has made himself question whether Red Bull can compete at the top. However, the 25-year-old has emphasised his faith in the Adrian Newey-lead aerodynamic department.

The two-time world champion added that the team looked at the aerodynamic restrictions as a positive. Red Bull won 17 of the 22 races in 2022, producing a dominant display.

“We have a lot of very competent people in our factory,” the Dutchman said. “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 or third in championship, because that’s way more depressing.

“I’m sure we have to be a little bit more precise of 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.”

Do you think Red Bull can stay at the top of Formula 1 and win another championship in 2023?

Feature Image Credit: Bryn Lennon via Getty Images

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