Max Verstappen could ditch Red Bull to avoid ‘big loss’

Max Verstappen set a new record in 2022 for the most wins in a single season, after claiming 15 P1 finishes from 22 races.

Following on from what was perhaps the most dominant season in the history of Formula 1, the foreseeable future looks set to be incredibly challenging for Red Bull and crucially, Max Verstappen, as the ‘Cashgate’ penalty begins to take its toll.

Verstappen’s defence of his 2021 Drivers’ Championship was completely imperious, with the Dutchman having broken the record for most wins in a season and most points scored in a campaign.

He certainly has a target on his back going into 2023, with Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton both being eager to dethrone the 25-year-old.

Dethroning the mighty Dutchman could prove to be easier than initially thought, though, as a result of Red Bull’s punishment for breaching the 2021 budget cap by £1.8 million.

READ: Charles Leclerc makes Mercedes claim as Lewis Hamilton to be a factor in 2023 battle

As a result of their ‘minor’ breach, the FIA fined the Austrians £6 million and awarded them a 10-percent reduction in permitted aerodynamic research.

The latter essentially means the Austrians will receive less wind tunnel time than is already allowed, something which will have a huge impact on the team’s development of their 2023 and 2024 cars.

Whilst the penalty is only for a 12-month period, Red Bull will likely begin to develop their 2024 car towards the end of the upcoming season, meaning the wind tunnel penalty will impact the team for the next two years.

Technical analyst Craig Scarborough has predicted that the punishment will “really hurt” Verstappen and Red Bull, as the side will have to carefully plan how much wind tunnel time to allocate to developing the 2023 car and developing a concept of their 2024 challenger.

Article continues below

“That’s going to hurt them a lot,” Scarborough told F1 journalist Peter Windsor’s Twitch channel.

“It’s going to hurt them in one of two ways or probably a little bit of each. Early/mid-season development of next year’s car will be limited and then they’ll be doing the concept work for the 2024 car.

READ: Max Verstappen warned he can’t dominate like Lewis Hamilton

“They’re going to have to work out where they’re going to spend their hours between this year’s car and next year’s car and that will probably be something that will evolve depending on how good the 2023 car is, how much competition they’ve got and how much they want to think about ’24.

“That’s a big loss for them. As we’ve got through this first year of the regulations the development curve is very steep and it’ll start to flatten out through next year as teams make their second stab at the regulations and develop that through the year.

“I think it will really hurt them because it’s at that point, when the development curve flattens off, every one of those teams are looking at tinier, tinier things to make improvements, not big changes like we saw with the sidepods earlier in the season.”