Christian Horner says Red Bull Racing won’t apologize despite accepting it breached the 2021 Financial Regulations, as it still disputes aspects that led to a “draconian” punishment but wants to move on for the good of the sport.
Red Bull was found to have overspent the 2021 cost cap by 1.6% but had failed to exclude a tax payment that would have reduced that figure to 0.37%. With Horner claiming unused parts amounting to over $1 million could have been excluded if filed differently — bringing Red Bull under the limit — the team principal says the punishment of a $7 million fine and reduced aerodynamic testing is excessive.
“To be honest with you, I think we’re probably due an apology from some of our rivals for some of the claims they have made,” Horner said. “We make no apology for the way that we’ve performed, the way that we’ve acted. We do take on the chin that there are lessons to be learned and potentially mistakes have been made in our submission — which with the benefit of hindsight, with 20:20 vision, everybody can be a specialist — but there was no intent.
“There was nothing dishonest and there was certainly no cheating involved, which has been alleged in certain areas. So I don’t feel like we need to apologize. I feel like there are lessons that have been learned — everybody can learn from this.
“We’ve taken a very public pounding through the accusations that have been made by other teams — we’ve had our drivers booed at circuits, and the reputational damage that has been made by allegations has been significant. The time is now for that to stop and to move on.”
Horner underscored how heavy the penalty is, from his team’s perspective.
“The more draconian part is the sporting penalty, which is a 10% reduction on our ability to utilize our wind tunnel and aerodynamic tools,” he noted. “I’ve heard people reporting today that that is an insignificant amount, but let me tell you that is an enormous amount. That represents anywhere between 0.25s and 0.5s of lap time. That comes in from now, it has a direct effect on next year’s car and it will be in place for a 12-month period.
“By winning the constructors’ championship we have become victims of our own success by, in addition to that 10%, having five percent incremental disadvantage or handicap compared to second and third place. So just for clarity, we will have 15% (sic; actually 12%) less wind tunnel time than the team in second place in the constructors’ championship and 20% (sic: 17%) less than third place. Again, a draconian amount. So that 10% put into reality will have an impact on our ability to perform on track next year.”
However, despite being unhappy with the severity of the punishment, Horner says it wasn’t in Red Bull’s or F1’s interests to continue to challenge the FIA’s decision, as he was also wary of harsher penalties.
“Had we dragged it out through the administration process to go to effectively appeal, that could take months, and beyond that the appeal could have taken further months,” he said. “So we could have been looking at 12-month period to have this situation closed and the amount of speculation, commenting and sniping going on in the paddock, it was in everyone’s interest — our interest, the FIA’s interest and Formula 1’s interest — to say we close the book and we close the book here and today.
“We accept the penalties — begrudgingly, but we accept them — and I think collectively we have a duty of care, together with the other entrants because one other team has made a procedural breach, and in 75,000 lines not one other team has made a single error, I think that there are lessons for everyone to learn collectively. The cost cap is an important part of Formula 1, its future, but it has to be in a manner that is consistent, applicable and developed.”