BUDAPEST, Hungary — Following the introduction of an effective upgrade package at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Red Bull has redirected its developmental attention towards next year’s racing vehicle. This move aims to balance out any negative effects stemming from the penalty handed out this year for violating Formula One‘s cost cap rules.
Sunday saw Max Verstappen sail to victory at the Hungaroring, with a noteworthy 34 seconds to spare over runner-up Lando Norris. Verstappen likened his updated Red Bull racecar to a “rocket ship” after effortlessly commandeering it over the race’s 70 laps.
Approaching the season’s mid-point, Verstappen has seized a robust 110-point lead over fellow Red Bull racer Sergio Perez in the drivers’ championship. Concurrently, Red Bull itself has surged ahead of Mercedes by a significant 229 points in the constructors’ standings.
The Red Bull improvements included an overhauled floor and retouched upper bodywork, contributing to an impressive boost in speed of close to 0.5s per lap during Sunday’s Grand Prix. This resounding edge in performance ensures that the rest of the season will see only minor upgrades to the existing RB19 model, each aimed at optimizing the model to each of the season’s eleven forthcoming circuits.
However, due to aerodynamic testing restrictions instigated as a penalty for breaching F1‘s cost cap in 2021, Red Bull is shifting its R&D energies away from the current car, focusing entirely on their 2024 model. Team principal Christian Horner explained this change in strategy. “The upgrades [in Hungary] did what they said on the tin,” Horner stated.
Facing constraints on wind tunnel usage, Horner emphasized the need for a strategic change. He elaborated, “With the handicap that we have, we have to really swing our focus over to next year. We face a significant deficit in wind tunnel time compared to our competitors and we have to be very selective in how we use it.”
Adhering to F1‘s Aerodynamic Testing Restrictions, Red Bull has the most limited wind tunnel time and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) freedom of any team. Enforced every six months based on each team’s position in the constructors’ championship, these regulations have most tightly bound Red Bull.
Additionally, due to its cost cap violation, Red Bull faces a 10% cut in aerodynamic testing until October. Horner pointed out the team’s disadvantage compared to competitors, particularly McLaren, Red Bull‘s toughest competitor in the last two races. Horner stated, “So if you compare what McLaren can do in the wind tunnel compared to ourselves, it’s a significant difference.”
In conclusion, Horner offered high praise for the engineering team back in Milton Keynes, credit to their adept usage of wind tunnel trials for efficient car development, despite limitations. “The way they are effectively and efficiently developing the car is commendable,” he said.