Reports by the Italian version of Motorsport.com that Red Bull have eaten through the majority of their development budget have been dismissed by Dutch journalist Erik van Haren.
It was initially reported that the Milton Keynes side had $10 million available to develop their RB18, but they had already used “two thirds” of that by introducing the influential upgrade package in Imola.
Red Bull gained two tenths of a second per lap with their first evolution of the car, and lost up to 5kg as the majority of the teams try to bring their weight down towards the 798kg limit set by the FIA upon the arrival of the new technical regulations.
The Red Bull and the Ferrari are believed to be very similar in weight, but estimated figures vary from 800 to 808kg, so it is unknown who has the advantage and how close they truly are to making weight.
A hint was however given by Dr Helmut Marko that the changes they will bring to the Spanish Grand Prix will land them on their “optimum” weight as they seek to meet the stringent scale demands, but Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto questioned how many more evolutions his rivals would be able to introduce given the overall $140 million spending cap this season.
“We have not developed since the start of the season, we will have some upgrades certainly in Barcelona. And I hope that those upgrades will put us back in a closer fight,” he said.
“Red Bull spent money, so I hope at some stage with the budget cap, they will stop developing while we got some upgrades available.”
The report indicated that Mercedes’ upgrade next weekend might be their last season having already made changes in each of the last two grand prix in Imola and Miami, but van Haren is not so sure the teams are running as tight as initially feared.
He reveals that Red Bull are running with fewer spare parts in a bid to incur as few costs as possible, and they are also bringing smaller squads to the races to keep travel expenses to a minimum.
Red Bull’s updated car has helped Max Verstappen to two wins on the bounce, but with Ferrari reportedly set to gain three tenths with their first major change of the season in Spain, the development battle between the two leading teams is sure to become a fascinating one in the coming weeks.