Red Bull wary of rapid F1 convergence
By Ian Parkes
Saturday 11th March, 2023 - 1:02am
Christian Horner has not ruled out the possibility of a rapid convergence wiping out Red Bull’s early-season dominance in F1.
One year on from a double DNF in last year’s opening race in Bahrain, Red Bull made the perfect start to this term’s campaign by scoring a one-two spearheaded by reigning champion Max Verstappen.
The result underlined the theory from pre-season testing that Red Bull and Verstappen would again be the combination to beat over what is a record-breaking 23-race season.
The outlier is the fact all 10 teams only have a data set of information gleaned from one circuit given both testing and the first grand prix took place at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Horner recognises how easily the picture could change at the next two circuits in Jeddah and Melbourne which are remarkably different to the track in Sakhir.
“Look, I’ve been around long enough to see how things can change so quickly,” said Horner.
“I think these cars are still relatively immature, and as teams develop and upgrades come, things will change.”
Highlighting the progress made by Aston Martin, whose AMR23 has followed the aerodynamic philosophy of Red Bull’s RB18 from last year, Horner added: “The operating windows of these cars are very narrow.
“Every team in the top three looks like it’s developed its own theme, and one team (Aston Martin) has adopted our theme and have made a gain.
“I guess at some point it is going to converge and you know that can happen during a season.”
Horner sees difference to 2014
Horner went so far as to suggest the possibility of convergence from race to race given the differing circumstances presented by each venue.
“It can converge in two weeks,” said Horner, with a smile.
“So let’s see a few more circuits, a few more surfaces, the tyres, how they work at these different venues. You know, things can change, and change quickly.”
The one major differentiating factor, however, is the budget cap, which this year is set at US$135 million, which could hamstring the chasing teams such as Ferrari, Mercedes, and Aston Martin.
Horner, however, feels the situation now is very different to 2014 when new power unit regulations were introduced which saw Red Bull barely able to make a dent in Mercedes’ dominance.
“The budget cap adds challenges,” remarked Horner. “You just have to be effective and efficient with your spending and your commitment.
“I think 2014 was different because there was a fundamental difference in the engine, whereas the chassis is much swifter to develop than the engine.”
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