Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has quipped that Sir Lewis Hamilton may be due a fine if he goes so far as to touch Red Bull’s 2022 car.
Hamilton was seen looming outside the Red Bull garage during the first day of pre-season testing in Barcelona as he attempted to catch a glimpse of their new design under the unprecedented changes to the technical regulations.
Horner admitted that he had not been made aware of his compatriot’s presence in close proximity to the Milton Keynes-produced car, but eluded to Max Verstappen’s fine at last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix when he touched the Mercedes rear wing to jokingly suggest that he may be also be financially punished for any transgressions.
“I haven’t seen that, but if he touched it he’s up for a big fine, as Max knows,” he told Sky Sports.
“There’s always a lot of interest this time of year, especially as this is the biggest regulation change we’ve had in probably 40 years.”
Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has not ruled out teams trying to find gaps in the new rules, and Horner suggests that there is more room for innovation than one might think.
“Looking at how these rules have been interpreted, even though they’re fairly prescriptive, you know, the solutions that the 10 teams have are all quite varying,” he added.
The new regulations, which sees the return of ground affect amid a major aerodynamic reduction, are aimed at facilitating closer racing and more overtaking.
The 48-year-old hopes that they achieve this goal, adding that it may also bring more drivers into play at the front of the grid.
“It’s what everybody wants to see; you want to see the best drivers in the world fighting wheel-to-wheel,” he affirmed.
“I think Ferrari could be in there, McLaren [are] looking strong, so you might have a few other candidates. And don’t forget [Mercedes driver] George Russell. I mean, he’s going to be a key component in this championship as well.”
Horner reveals that the RB18’s behaviour has been as predicted by the team, and is pleased by the productive start Red Bull have made to pre-season testing.
“It’s great to be back on track. These new cars are very, very different, so it’s a ‘get-to-know-you’ process with this new car,” he explained.
“So far, the feedback’s been good. It’s behaving as we expected, as per our tools predicted, so it’s been an encouraging start.”
Verstappen is out on track this morning, before team-mate Sergio Perez takes the reigns later on in the day.