“Hugely premature,” Christian Horner fires back at Fred Vasseur for questioning Red Bull cost cap penalty’s severity  

Christian Horner responds to Fred Vasseur's criticism over cost cap penalty, says it is too early to judge


“Hugely premature,” Christian Horner fires back at Fred Vasseur for questioning Red Bull cost cap penalty’s severity  

Max Verstappen and Fred Vasseur at Bahrain press conference (Credits: FormulaPassion.it)

Red Bull Racing’s team principal, Christian Horner, has responded to criticism from Ferrari’s team principal, Frederic Vasseur, regarding the cost-cap penalty imposed on Red Bull Racing earlier this year. Vasseur had stated that the penalty imposed on Red Bull was not enough, but Horner has dismissed his comments, calling them “premature.”

Christian Horner defended his team’s performance in the 2023 Formula 1 season so far, which has seen Red Bull Racing win all three races despite operating with a 10% reduction in their wind tunnel time. “Everybody’s got an opinion, and I think everybody’s free to have an opinion,” he said. Horner argued that it is too early to pass judgment on the team’s performance as there are still many races left in the season. He said, “So on a snapshot of three races, I think it’s still hugely premature in (terms of) this season, there’s an awful lot of racing still to go.”

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Horner’s comments come after Frederic Vasseur stated that the penalty imposed on Red Bull Racing was not enough. In October 2022, Red Bull Racing admitted to a “minor” breach of the $145m spending limit for 2021 and was handed a $7m fine and a 10% reduction in wind tunnel time for a 12-month period. Vasseur claimed that this penalty was too lenient and that the cost cap needed to be more strictly enforced.

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Red Bull is doing their best as rivals set to close the gap with penalty looming large

Charles Leclerc ahead of Sergio Perez
Charles Leclerc ahead of Sergio Perez (Credits: Planet F1)

Red Bull’s blistering performance was on display in the most recent race in Saudi Arabia when Max Verstappen finished despite starting from 15th on the grid due to a mechanical malfunction during qualifying. The team’s domination has prompted a rebuke from competitors, with Ferrari and Mercedes both looking surprised by their early-season disadvantage to the defending champions. Both teams have said that they are aiming to deliver significant upgrades to the race in Imola in May. 

Despite the penalty, Horner acknowledges the challenges that Red Bull faces, stating that “we’re doing the best that we can with what we’ve got, and we know that it’s a tough penalty, it’s one that we’re taking on the chin, and we’re applying ourselves in the best way that we possibly can.” Horner also revealed that the team has been working hard over the winter on limited wind-tunnel time to develop their car, which he believes will have an impact later into the year and on next year.

The penalty will take effect in the later parts of the season and will continue to affect the team in 2024. The field will likely be closed after the penalty’s imposition. Ferrari is struggling to match its rivals this season and currently sits fourth in the standings with one of the worst seasons ever in the last two decades.

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With Red Bull Racing leading the way in the 2023 season, it remains to be seen whether the penalty imposed on the team will have any impact in the long run. For now, Horner is focused on his team’s performance and doing the best job possible under the current regulations.

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