Red Bull’s Christian Horner: Cost-cap penalty has driven team to become more “efficient and effective”

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner revealed that the team is feeling the impact of the cost-cap penalty they received after going over budget for the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season. 

Between a seven million dollar fine and a significant reduction in wind tunnel time, Horner told RACER that the team has had to become more efficient in their development strategy.

“We’re probably 25% almost of the way through that penalty, and of course it has an effect. It’s limiting significantly, the amount of runs that we can do in our wind tunnel over each quarter. And I think that the team are they’re having to adapt to that.

“And it just means you have to be a bit more focused, and more disciplined in what we put through the testing process within the tunnel or within our simulation tools.”

Though this need to adapt has been an obstacle for the team, Horner is confident in the team’s ability to overcome the penalty and make the best of the resources they have. 

“So it’s another challenge. And it’s a handicap for sure, coming into this year, but we’ve got very capable people that are looking to obviously extract the best that we possibly can and apply ourselves in the most efficient and effective way.”

Horner believes that the drive to become more resourceful is a positive by-product of the cost-cap regulations, which, as an example, pushes teams to be more mindful of the cost of wasted parts.

“I think the principle of it is great and it’s driven efficiency. If I look at the business now, compared to where it was four or five years ago, we’d have ended up with a lot of stock of spare parts that were brand new that had never been used, and then they’re just scrap. And so now you just can’t afford to have that. You’ve got to be so effective and efficient.

“So I think from that point of view, it has driven great efficiency into the business. It’s got rid of that wastage that was there that nobody saw previously.”

As far as the principal mission of the cost-cap goes, Horner agrees that its ability to “more level playing field” financially is a good move, though there are still small issues to be resolved, being a relatively new regulation. 

One example he provides is the financial “discrepancy” between the chassis and power unit teams, and the funds they are able to allocate to each. 

“I think that the regulations are still very immature, they’re only in their second year. So they’re still evolving, and being tuned and as they’re being introduced into the power unit side of the business as well – I think principally, it is a good thing for Formula 1, and it does create a more level playing field – I think there’s certain elements that still need to be to be tuned.

“At the moment, we’re seeing a discrepancy between chassis financial regs and engine financial regs that on the chassis side, they can have a Christmas party, on the power unit side, they can’t! So there’s certain things that I think need balancing up so there is a consistency across those caps. But I think on the whole, it’s a very positive thing.”