Toto Wolff admits Mercedes could benefit from Red Bull Cashgate penalty

Red Bull have had ten percent of their wind tunnel time taken away this season as punishment for breaching the 2021 cost cap.

Around the time of the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix, rumours emerged that Red Bull Racing had breached the 2021 cost cap of $145m.

It took a number of weeks for the FIA to release any official finding but when they did, it was announced that Red Bull had made what was categorised as a ‘minor breach’ of the cost cap.

Rivals teams believed that the team have gained an advantage as a result of the overspend and called for penalties as harsh as a points deduction, which would have seen Max Verstappen stripped of his 2021 title.

After a period of negotiation with the FIA, Red Bull were fined $7m and had ten percent of their wind tunnel testing time for 2023 taken away from them.

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While Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has called the punishment ‘draconian’ and claimed that it could cost the team up to half a second in pace this year, technical director Adrian Newey does not anticipate feeling a significant impact.

Speaking about his team’s chances this upcoming season, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff as admitted that he expects Red Bull’s punishment to hurt them, having dealt with less testing time in recent years with Mercedes.

“I think that the lack of wind tunnel time is certainly not great for them, [and could be] an advantage for us this season,” said the Austrian.

“If you have an efficient machine, you can certainly compensate for that, or large parts of it. So long term, it’s good for us.

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“But we’ve been in that situation – obviously without the penalty – in the years before [when] we won, and therefore we had less wind tunnel time than everybody else for the last few seasons.

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“It’s going to certainly bite them a bit. But if they are efficient as an organisation, which they’ve demonstrated, it’s not going to be big.”

Not only will Red Bull have to deal with being hindered in 2023, they will also have to fend off the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari who are tipped to massively improve this year.

Having dominated the first year of the new regulations while their rivals struggled, Red Bull will have to win a three-way title fight this season if they wish to retain their championships.