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Red Bull aero penalty will "hurt", but not too much, say F1 rivals

Red Bull’s aero development punishment for breaking Formula 1’s cost cap rules will "hurt" the team but won’t have a major impact on its form, reckon key rivals.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

The Milton Keynes-based squad was handed a $7 million fine and a 10% reduction in its aero development allowance as the result of being found to have overspent on its way to the 2021 world championship.

While the financial penalty will not produce too much pain, the reduction in its wind tunnel and CFD allowance means it will have significantly less development time than some of its closest competitors.

Analysis of allowances last year showed that Mercedes will, for example, have 25% more aero time than Red Bull over the first part of the season.

PLUS: The hard numbers behind Red Bull's cost cap penalty

While being restricted in what development it can do will be a hindrance to Red Bull, its opposition is not convinced that it will trigger a dramatic downturn in its form.

Aston Martin technical director Dan Fallows, who worked at Red Bull for many years, thinks the squad’s legacy infrastructure will help ensure that it minimises the pain of its handicap.

“They’ve come from a very strong position with last year’s car,” explained Fallows. “There are regulation changes for this year, but they’re not massive.

“They [Red Bull] are clearly in a very strong position going into this year. I think that kind of restriction with your wind tunnel hours, you even get it as you go up the grid, that does hurt, and I think that restriction will hurt them to some extent.

“But I think they have a great deal of strength in depth, and they have a lot of experience of this rule set. I’m fairly confident they’ll minimise the impact of that penalty.”

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff concurs that, while the aero sanction will be an annoyance to Red Bull, it is unlikely to be something that triggers a dramatic downturn in its form.

“I think they've done a very good job last year in having a car out there that's half a second or more quicker than everybody else,” said Wolff.

“So I think the lack of wind tunnel time is certainly not great for them, and is an advantage for us this season.

“But if you have an efficient machine, you can certainly compensate for that, or large parts of it.”

F1’s aerodynamic development restrictions means that teams get less allowance the better they are doing in the championship.

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Mercedes says its own experience of the situation, where it had fewer hours than others because of title success, shows that it is not a pain-free thing to face such restrictions.

“We've won, and therefore we had less wind tunnel time than everybody else for the last two seasons,” he said.

“So yeah, it's going certainly bite them a bit. But repeating myself, if they are efficient as an organisation, which they've demonstrated, it's not going to be big.”

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