At the first opening rounds of the 2023 Formula 1 season, Red Bull has dominated all three races with their RB19 at the hands of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. The pair have regularly sailed off into the distance as their rivals squabble over the final podium positions, who have depended on Red Bull reliability problems to achieve higher places. Where then – you would ask – is the penalty for breaching the 2021 cost cap having an effect? As revealed first by , the team was fined $7 million ( which was paid last year ) and is serving a 10 per cent reduction on their aerodynamic testing – on top of their 70 per cent allowance for winning last year’s Constructors’ Championship. To all intents, it seems like the team has managed to develop a quick enough car that any aero penalty would be insignificant. But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner claims it is having a bigger effect behind the scenes than you might think. “We’re now six months through the penalty. It will have an effect on the second half of this year and on next year,” he explained, in an exclusive interview with . “It runs all the way until October this year, so I think it’s massively premature on the basis of three races to say ‘Oh, they haven’t felt any pain’.” A close look at the sliding aero regulations for 2023 show that Aston Martin has 40 per cent more aero development time, which has been the main source of their turnaround in results. Horner says Red Bull is having to make frequent decisions to ensure they maintain their advantage. “I can tell you that on a daily basis we’re having to make a decision on the amount of testing time that we have, [which] compared to, particularly Aston Martin, is a fraction of the amount [of our competitors],” he says. Horner ‘confident’ Red Bull within budget cap When Horner claimed he would “begrudgingly” accept their punishment for breaching the 2021 cost cap rules, it was done out of acceptance over the immaturity of the regulations. This was the first time in the history of F1 that teams had their financials audited to stay within an agreed budget. It was a complex process for them to understand, as evidenced by three teams – Red Bull, Williams, and Aston Martin – committing procedural breaches related to administration and paperwork. In the case of Williams, it was the fault of their third-party auditor who submitted paperwork late . Horner has previously said there needs to be more refinement in specific areas to ensure that teams do not commit breaches relating to paperwork. For the 2022 submissions, the amount of paperwork has increased, which adds yet another layer of complexity to the matter according to Horner. “We’re confident that we have a significant margin to be within the cap. Can I tell you that procedurally we have filled out every single box – all 175,000 – correctly? I can’t tell you that.” For the 2022 budget cap, teams had $1.2m extra to spend due to the added races plus an increase of 3.1% due to the rise in inflation and energy costs which have been seen across much of Europe. Given the intense scrutiny aimed at Red Bull, is Horner confident that they are below the cap in 2022? “I’d be very surprised if we weren’t,” he said when asked by . “We’re in the second year of this set of regulations and [in] the first year there was always going to be areas of interpretation. I think as clarifications have come out, they continue to come out.”

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