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Ferrari: Red Bull F1 cost cap penalty was not big enough

Ferrari Formula 1 boss Fred Vasseur believes that the cost cap penalty imposed on Red Bull last year was too lenient.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Red Bull was found guilty of breaking the cost cap limit in 2021, and the team was fined $7 million plus given a 10% reduction in aerodynamic testing for 12 months from October 2022.

Despite that extra handicap being added to its position as world champions at the bottom of the aero testing sliding scale, the team has dominated the first three races of the season.

“I think it was not a penalty,” said Vasseur when asked if he was surprised that Red Bull has overcome it. “It was very low. If you consider that basically, we will improve a bit less than one second over the season in terms of aero, you get the penalty of 10% of this, it's one tenth.

“And as it's not a linear progression, it's probably less, and you are allowed to spend this money somewhere else. But it means that for me the penalty is marginal.”

Asked if he believed that the team had done a good job dealing with the penalty or that the penalty wasn’t strict enough he said: “Both, they did a good job. And still I am convinced that the penalty was very light.

“If you consider the rate of development that we have during the season, if you consider the fact that if you have a 10% balance at the end, it's not something linear, you are also putting the performance.

“Then that you can spend what you are saving on the wind tunnel, you can spend it somewhere else on the weight saving and so on.

“I'm not sure that the effect is mega. And if you consider that you have an advantage at the beginning of the season, because you spent more the year before.

“I don't want to say that they didn't do a good job, because I think honestly that they did a very good job on the car.

“I am not trying to find excuse at all. It's not this. But if you ask me if the penalty is too light, I say yes.”

Laurent Mekies, Racing Director, Scuderia Ferrari, Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Laurent Mekies, Racing Director, Scuderia Ferrari, Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: Ferrari

Vasseur acknowledged that the RB19 has a significant speed advantage compared to rivals when running with its DRS open, something that has caught the eye of drivers from other teams.

“They have a mega big DRS effect, bigger than everybody else,” he noted. “We have to understand how they're able to do something like this.

“I think it was probably even more obvious last year, but we compensated part of the gap. But we have still to improve on this.”

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Red Bull has also shown a bigger advantage in race trim than in qualifying, something that Ferrari is still trying to come to terms with.

“Yeah, it's true that on the first three events, and first we need to understand that three events is not the complete panel of the tracks, we always had the feeling that we are not far away and able to fight for the first row with them in qualifying, and it was more difficult in the race

“Perhaps at least on the numbers that we are able to analyse, the advantage in the race in Melbourne was much lower, and I think this is also coming from the capacity of the driver, to drive the car at the limit with different levels of fuel, different tyres, and so on.

“If you have a car be too peaky, perhaps you can manage the situation in quali for one lap with new tyres. You know the balance after five sets of soft tyres in quali.

“But all over the race, it's probably a bit more difficult. And we took a little bit this direction over the last couple of weeks.”

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