Horner more concerned about F1 budget cap than Mercedes car
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner sees nothing illegal in the new Mercedes car, and is far more concerned about the impact of Formula 1’s budget cap on teams given the “circumstances we have in the world”.
The cap has been reduced from $145 million (€132 million) to $140 million (€127 million) this year and drops to $135 million (€123 million) next year. The decision taken in 2020 was to improve competition, giving fewer advantages to wealthier teams like Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
But with the ongoing war in Ukraine, rising inflation, energy prices and rising interest rates, Horner fears the budget cap may now be unrealistic.
“I think it’s a very real problem because we’re already seeing extremely high inflation. What you have to remember is when the budget cap was rolled back in the middle of the pandemic – in the middle of 2020 – no one could have foreseen the circumstances we have in the world today,” Horner said. Friday at a press conference during pre-season testing in Bahrain.
“What we’re seeing happening around the world is only going to drive prices up one way. Inflation could hit record highs. We’re already seeing that impact, on things like air cargo just for this event.
Horner urged F1 to react quickly.
“I think this is a very serious issue that we need to look at and address because it impacts people’s jobs and livelihoods,” he said. “I think it’s the duty of the regulator to look at this with some urgency to make sure the relief is put in place.”
Horner was also asked about the new Mercedes W13 upgrade.
The sleeker car has attracted a lot of attention in the paddock as it has much narrower sidepods compared to testing in Barcelona two weeks ago. The triangular slot for the radiator inlets could improve airflow providing higher cooling velocity, and therefore improving downforce.
“What’s so great about this sport is you get a blank sheet of paper, you get 10 different interpretations (of the teams),” Horner said. “Obviously Mercedes came up with an extreme of it which is a different interpretation. To answer your question of whether we think it’s legal or not: yes, absolutely. It looks like it ticks all the boxes.
Horner categorically denied telling a German publication earlier this week that he believed the upgrade was illegal.
“Comments were quoted that were definitely not made,” he said. “As far as we are concerned, the Mercedes car seems to be in compliance with the regulations. It’s just a different interpretation, a different solution.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said on Thursday there were no issues and the design had been approved by governing body the FIA. But F1 chief executive Ross Brawn and Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto expressed surprise at the new development.
Horner, whose star driver Max Verstappen won the world title last year, offered more thoughts on the W13.
“It’s very innovative what Mercedes has proposed. It’s quite a different concept from what we’ve been pursuing and some others,” he said. “It shows the creativity that exists even in the constraining regulations of Formula 1, that very different solutions are emerging. Now whether that’s the right one or whatever, only time will tell.
For anything to be changed to the cars over the course of the season, eight of the 10 teams have to be in agreement as well as F1 and the FIA.
Verstappen begins his title defense on March 20 in Bahrain.
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