Christian Horner on cost cap: ‘Question whether it’s legal to enforce them’

Red Bull were found guilty of a minor breach of the 2021 budget cap earlier this year.

The FIA have introduced a number of initiatives in recent years in an attempt to increase the competitiveness and entertainment value of Formula 1.

A major change in regulations came into effect at the start of 2022 with the aim of allowing closer racing and making the grid more competitive from the front to the back.

One initiative that was introduced in 2021 was the budget cap, which limited teams to spending a maximum of $145m over the course of the season and Red Bull were found guilty of breaching this cap in its first year.

The energy drink giants were found guilty of a minor overspend of the cap and were punished with a $7m fine and a ten percent reduction in wind tunnel testing time for 2023, a punishment which team principal Christian Horner has called ‘draconian’.

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While Horner has accepted the FIA’s punishment, he still refuses to agree with suggestions that his team did anything wrong, instead arguing that Red Bull interpreted the complex set of rules differently, resulting in a small overspend in different areas.

When speaking about the budget cap in a recent interview, the Red Bull boss has suggested that the budget cap is a good concept in principal, but is so far not being executed perfectly due to the complexity of the idea.

“It’s a very, very complicated set of rules,” said Horner.

“Of course it will change over the years. But what I would like to see is that there is less pressure on it. The most important cost items are the technical and sporting regulations.

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“If we can put more emphasis on how those regulations drive up costs, then there will also be less pressure on the budget cap.

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“There are certain things that, inevitably will be difficult to enforce, or even question whether it’s legal to enforce them, when you’re talking about a salary cap and things like that.

“So it’s a process with a learning curve. There are many parts of the budget cap that are positive, but there are also certain areas where we can further improve and develop the rules.”

Horner has suggested that his team’s reduction in testing time could cost Red Bull up to half a second worth of lap time next year, while Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has suggested that it is the reputational damage to the team will be the biggest deterrent for those thinking of breaching the cap in the future.