Max Verstappen does not believe Red Bull’s aerodynamic testing penalty for breaching the 2021 budget cap will determine whether they can defend their world championships or not.
Red Bull secured the constructors’ championship last season after Verstappen successfully defended his drivers’ championship in dominant fashion.
However, the team were plunged into controversy when the FIA declared that Red Bull had breached F1’s budget cap during its first year of operation in 2021, the year of Verstappen’s first world championship win. As a result, the team were fined $7million and had a ten-percent reduction of their aerodynamic and wind tunnel testing allocation as punishment.
Speaking at the launch of Red Bull’s new livery for the 2023 season in New York, Verstappen said he was confident the aerodynamic testing restriction would not affect his chances of retaining his title for the second successive season.
“Yes, of course I’ve thought about it, but I think we have a lot of very competent people in our factory,” Verstappen told media including RaceFans. “And of course it makes things a little bit harder.
“But I also look at it like this, I prefer to be in the position we are in than always finishing second or third in the championship because that’s way more depressing. So we have a lot of good people and I’m sure we have to be a little bit more precise of what we are doing in the wind tunnel, but I don’t expect it to be a big limiting factor in if we’re going to win the title or not.”
After winning his first championship against Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton in 2021 after a controversial final race, Mercedes struggled to match Red Bull in 2022, falling behind Ferrari in the championship. Verstappen says he cannot be sure whether Mercedes will pose a stronger threat to his title this season than in 2022.
“It’s difficult to say,” he said. “I think even at the end of the year, it looked like sometimes they had it together and then sometimes not.
“So, from my side, it’s difficult to say – because I’m not part of the team – if they fully understand everything. But I guess we’ll find out this year if they fully understood everything that they wanted to improve on the car, of course. But for sure, they they will be our main rival.
“Also I think Ferrari will be strong – but how strong is difficult to say. But Mercedes has shown, of course, over the last few years that they’ve always been really, really, really strong and they have a good group of people as well. But I trust in my people in Milton Keynes that they can build a very strong car as well, together with our engine as well. I hope that we again can have a strong package against them.”
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