A momentous victory for Max Verstappen and the Red Bull team at the Hungarian Grand Prix landed them in the F1 history books as they became the first to secure 12 consecutive wins. This success eclipsed the previous record holder, McLaren, who garnered 11 straight victories in 1988 with the acclaimed driving duo – Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, before succumbing at the Italian Grand Prix later that year.
An upgrade to Red Bull‘s sidepods and floor played a significant role in bolstering the team’s performance in Hungary. This was one of the most substantial modifications the team had implemented throughout the season. However, Red Bull‘s team boss, Christian Horner, has indicated that it could be the last performance upgrade for this year. The team needs to strategize its wind tunnel development allocation to concentrate on the forthcoming RB20.
In regards to the upgrades, Horner stated, “They did what they said on the tin. So, from that point of view, it’s sort of box ticked.” He went on to highlight the constraints the team is facing due to reduced wind tunnel usage, adding, “And now, with the handicap that we have, we have to really swing our focus over to next year, because we have a significant deficit of wind tunnel time compared to our competitors, and we have to be very selective in how we use it.”
The F1 Aerodynamic Testing Restrictions imply that teams leading in the standings during specific times of the year have less wind tunnel and CFD run availability. Despite their winning streak, Red Bull has only been allocated 70% of the baseline allocation at the mid-season checkpoint, whereas Mercedes has 75%, Aston Martin 80% and Ferrari boasts 85%.
In a surprising turn of events, McLaren, due to its faltering start to the season leaving it sixth in the constructors’ championship, gets 95% of the allowed allocation. Apart from this, Red Bull is grappling with an additional 10% reduction owing to the penalty accrued from last year’s cost cap breach.
The discrepancies between Red Bull and its competitors are pronounced, according to Horner. “We have that [cost cap] penalty until October this year, so particularly in terms of the amount of runs that you can do per week, we’re significantly down compared to second and third place,” he noted. He further elaborated, “And we are massively down once you get back to teams that are fourth or fifth. And if you compare McLaren‘s amount of runs they can do in a wind tunnel versus ourselves, it’s a huge, huge difference.”
Horner praised his team, stating that despite the restrictions, the engineering team continues to do an “incredible job” back in Milton Keynes developing the car efficiently and effectively. He admits future enhancements to the car will likely be circuit-specific – with potentially low-drag features for races like Spa and Monza – rather than general performance upgrades. He affirmed, “We will have a few circuit-specific things but nothing that hasn’t been done already and committed to R&D.”