Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur is convinced Red Bull’s penalty for breaching the cost cap last year was too light.
Red Bull was handed a multi-million dollar fine and docked 10% of its aerodynamic testing time for what the FIA deemed to be a minor overspend breach of the financial regulations. Despite those penalties, Red Bull easily won both championships in 2022 and has enjoyed an even bigger advantage at the start of this season, with Vasseur saying the restrictions were never likely to have a noticeable impact.
“The penalty for me was very low,” Vasseur said. “If you consider that basically we will improve a bit less than a second over the season in terms of aero, you get a penalty of 10% of this it’s one-tenth and as it’s not a linear progression it’s probably less. And you are allowed to spend this money somewhere else, so it means for me the penalty is marginal.”
And Vasseur says Red Bull has still done impressive work with its 2023 car to hold such a lead over the rest of the field, but that he doesn’t expect the penalty to influence matters moving forward either.
“Both, they did a good job but I’m still convinced that the penalty was very light. If you consider the rate of development that we have during the season, if you consider the fact that if you have a 10% ban it’s at the end, that means it’s not something that’s linear; you are sum-toting the performance. And then you can spend what you are saving on the wind tunnel somewhere else – on the weight saving and so on… I’m not sure that the effect is mega.
“And if you consider that you have an advantage at the beginning of the season because you spend more the year before, then the compensation… But I don’t want to say that they didn’t do a good job, because I think honestly that they did a very good j ob on the car. I’m not trying to find an excuse at all. It’s not this. But if you ask me if the penalty is too light, I say yes.”
One area Red Bull appears to have a significant advantage is when it uses DRS, but Vasseur actually believes that the previous car had a more potent rear wing design.
“A mega big DRS effect – bigger than everyone else and we have to understand how they are able to do something like this. I think it was probably even more huge last year, but we still have to improve on this area.”