Red Bull’s cost cap penalty could hit the 2022 Formula One world champions by as much as half a second a lap next season, team boss Christian Horner said on Friday.
The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) announced earlier that Red Bull had agreed to pay a $7 million fine for a breach of the $145 million 2021 cost cap and have their wind tunnel testing time slashed by 10%.
Speaking to reporters at the Mexican Grand Prix in a news conference that ran for nearly 50 minutes, Horner said the fine was a significant sum but “the more draconian part is the sporting penalty.
“Let me tell you now, that is an enormous amount,” he said of the wind tunnel usage reduction.
“That represents anywhere between a quarter and half a second’s worth of lap time. That comes in from now, that has a direct effect on next year’s car and it will be in place for a 12 month period.”
Horner said Red Bull, the team of double world champion Max Verstappen, were also “victims of our own success” with an additional reduction in wind tunnel use for winning the 2022 championship.
“We will have 15% less wind tunnel time than the second-placed team in the constructors’ championship and 20% less than the third place,” he said.
“So that 10% put into reality will have impact on our ability to perform on track next year.”
Horner said his team had accepted an agreement with the FIA because it was in the sport’s interest to close the book on the matter rather than risk it rumbling on for months and potentially to an appeal court.
“We take it on the chin. Now is the time to put it to bed and move on,” he said, repeating his assertion that the overspend had zero benefit to the team’s performance and providing details of what had happened.
He said Red Bull had submitted accounts, with more than 70,000 line items, 3.7 million pounds ($4.29 million) under the cap, but some of the items they had assumed were excludable turned out not to be.
They included the entire company’s staff catering costs amounting to 1.4 million pounds, redundancy pay-offs and long-term sick pay.
“Had the person died … the cost would have been excludable,” said Horner. “Thankfully they didn’t die, but therefore the cost was includable for that sick period.”
“Any of you who have visited Milton Keynes have contributed to the overspend,” he added of the food bill.
Horner refused to apologise, saying there had been no cheating or intent to deceive, and felt the penalty had set a precedent and would serve as a deterrent for the future.
He hoped the fine would be put to good use by the FIA.
The team boss pointed out, however, that Red Bull’s share of revenues from Formula One’s commercial rights holders Liberty Media next season as champions would exceed the cap itself, with sponsorship income on top.