Strong start vital for Red Bull to counter F1 aero penalty

Red Bull carries an F1 aerodynamic testing penalty in 2023

Red Bull carries an F1 aerodynamic testing penalty in 2023

A convincing performance in the F1 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix for Red Bull was important in mitigating the aerodynamic testing penalty the team carries in 2023.

Max Verstappen won the Bahrain Grand Prix from Sergio Perez in a crushing performance that saw third-placed Fernando Alonso more than 30 seconds back from the race winner.

However, the team faces a technical hurdle this year stemming back to a breach of the cost cap regulations in 2021.

Late last year, the FIA imposed limitations on the aerodynamic testing Red Bull can perform.

That includes wind tunnel time and the use of simulation tools, such as computational fluid dynamics.

Those limitations run for 12 months, meaning the Milton Keynes operation will experience the impact of them both throughout the development of the 2023 car and next year’s machine.

Team boss Christian Horner is therefore of the opinion that a strong start to the year is important as rivals have an inherent advantage as the championship wears on.

“For the first race of the year to bring them home as we did with the handicap of the wind tunnel time and everything else, I think the team has done an amazing job,” he opined.

“To have this as a starting point, of course, we’ve now got to be efficient in our development moving forward.”

Impact of Red Bull aero penalty

Performances such as that in Bahrain afford the team opportunity to reduce the development of this year’s car and focus its resources on 2024, mitigating the penalty to an extent.

With a comfortable gap in hand, there is also time to react if necessary, giving Horner’s team the flexibility of dialling up or down the focus on one project over the other as the situation requires.

“You have to view it over a 12-month period,” Horner said of the penalty his team carries.

“It’s not just this year’s car, it’s next year’s car.

“I think the really positive thing for us is that we’re not dealing with a fundamental issue that soaks up that resource and time.

“It was vital for us to be able to cope with our penalty to have a solid starting point.

“I think that’s what the team have done a great job in achieving.”

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