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Red Bull: F1 advantage will "melt away" as wind tunnel penalty bites

Red Bull thinks the edge it has in Formula 1 will "melt away" over the season as the impact of its 2023 wind tunnel penalty bites.

Start action, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19 leads

The Milton Keynes-based squad was handed a 10% reduction in aero development time for this season, as well as a $7 million fine, after it was found to have breached the cost cap on its way to helping Max Verstappen win the 2021 drivers’ title.

While it believes it has limited the impact of the sanction so far in developing its RB19, it is under no illusions that things will get harder from here on in.

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko says that as the season rolls on, the advantage its rivals have in being able to develop more will help them close the gap.

In an interview on the YouTube channel of Autosport’s sister publication Formel1.de, Marko said Red Bull was far from relaxed despite looking comfortable in front right now.

“We prepared ourselves optimally for the season,” he said. “Once we knew that this penalty would be imposed, it was clear that, when we went into the wind tunnel, it had to be done in an efficient manner and each run with a clear plan.

“At the moment, we've managed to do all that. But, of course, as the season progresses and we run out of wind tunnel time, the others will still have that available and our lead will then melt away.

“That's why it's extremely important that we take the points with us now.”

Helmut Marko, Consultant, Red Bull Racing, Bernie Ecclestone and Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

Helmut Marko, Consultant, Red Bull Racing, Bernie Ecclestone and Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Despite Red Bull dominating the F1 opener in Bahrain, Marko does not believe the performance of his team is indicative of how it will fare at every track.

Asked about Mercedes driver George Russell’s claim that Red Bull will win every race this season, Marko said: “No. So this statement by Russell can perhaps be explained by the current frustration of the Bahrain race.

“It was a race on a specific circuit where the surface is extremely rough, which means that tyre wear plays a very big role.

“Yes, we put in a good performance. But so much for winning all the races and having the world championship title in the bag. If it were that easy, it would be nice.”

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Marko said that the team also remained slightly confused about why it struggled to find a good balance with its RB19 in practice in Bahrain.

He was clear, however, that suggestions its difficulties were triggered by it having to raise its ride height to overcome problems with its plank rubbing were wide of the mark.

“No, that story is not true like that,” he said. “We had a super balanced car during the test [in Bahrain] and on the Friday we suddenly had relatively strong understeer. That’s something Max doesn't like at all.

“But other teams had that, too. It must have been another factor - maybe sand, temperature, whatever. And then we painstakingly, I have to say, found our way back to a set-up that allowed Max to drive to pole position and then also to take the win.”

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