Red Bull are facing the tough task of defending their 2022 championship victory next season with one hand tied behind their back.
The energy drink giants were found guilty of a minor overspend of the 2021 cost cap last month and punished with a $7m fine and a ten percent reduction in their wind tunnel testing time for 2023, despite being in line to receive the smallest allocation of time anyway.
Recent regulation changes mean that test time is scaled down based on a team’s finishing position in the championship, meaning championship winners Red Bull will be given the least amount of hours, while last placed Williams will receive the most.
Alfa Romeo ended the season level on points with Aston Martin following Sebastian Vettel’s P10 finish in Abu Dhabi, but finished ahead of their rivals in the championship standings because of Valtteri Bottas’ fifth place finish back in Imola.
Team principal Fred Vasseur has spoken on the importance of his team finishing above Aston Martin in the championship, explaining that the sixth place finish they secured allows the team to hit next year’s budget cap.
“It’s a huge difference for us because if we struggle during the season, we’ve a very high threshold in terms of cost per point,” he explained.
“We couldn’t buy parts for a couple of months [last season].
“Next year, we can go back to buying parts throughout the season. It will be a big difference for us.”
The reason why Alfa Romeo will be able to hit their budget cap of $135m is the fact that the team will receive a $10m windfall for a sixth place finish, while seventh place will receive less.
Vasseur has now poked fun at Christian Horner’s comments that Red Bull’s $2m overspend was ‘nothing’, suggesting that Alfa Romeo’s prize money could make all the difference.
“It’s the difference we have in the cost cap,” said the Frenchman.
“I know one of my colleagues said two million is nothing, but now we have five times nothing!”
Rumours are circulating that Vasseur may not even be in charge of Alfa Romeo next season, with Ferrari reportedly targeting the 54-year-old as their favoured replacement for Mattia Binotto, who has recently resigned.
As a part of the Ferrari family, a move from Alfa Romeo to Ferrari would be a seamless one for Vasseur, who continues to be tipped as the favourite to replace Binotto.