Red Bull ‘surprised other teams under-delivered’ with their 2023 cars

2023 Miami Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admitted he is surprised rival teams failed to match their off-season development gains.

The world champions have won the first five grands prix of this season, their drivers finishing one-two in four of those, and claimed pole position four times.

Max Verstappen has scored twice as many points as anyone bar team mate Sergio Perez and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, and Red Bull’s 122-point lead at the top of the constructors’ standings means the team has also twice the number of points of their closest rival.

But despite the large margins at the top of the points tables, Horner is not taking the team’s position for granted. He expects their rivals to improve their pace with upgrades once the Formula 1 calendar returns to Europe.

“You can never write everybody off,” he told media including RaceFans after the Miami Grand Prix.

“I think it’s been the best start that we’ve had, but we feel that we’ve made a good step from the RB18 to RB19. But the kind of step that you would expect.

“So I think it’s more that it feels like others have lost ground. And I’m sure that they’re working hard to address that. So big gains could come quite quickly.”

Red Bull is allowed the least development time of any team this year, partly due to its success last season and partly due to the penalty it received for exceeding the cost cap during 2021. They are allowed to spend less time on wind tunnel and CFD testing than everyone else on the grid, which could leave them vulnerable in being able to respond in concept development if rivals introduce parts to their cars that lead to big performance gains.

Following Red Bull’s strong end to last season – they won 10 out of their final 11 rounds – Horner expected their rivals to find more performance than they did over the winter.

“I think it surprised us that the others have perhaps under-delivered compared to where they were last year. But no doubt they will be looking to address that. And I’m sure starting in Imola we’re going to see big updates starting to come through.”

Horner says that “until mathematically things are done, which is still a long, long way away”, Red Bull should not be considered champions-in-waiting.

“We’ve got a great car, we’ve got a great team, we’ve got two great drivers. But still a long way to go. Let’s reserve judgement until after we see what they turn up with in Imola and Barcelona.”

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...
RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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40 comments on “Red Bull ‘surprised other teams under-delivered’ with their 2023 cars”

  1. He said, she said. The expected reaction from RB on the Mercedes narrative ‘wow, this thing is so blistering fast, it’s going to ruin the viewer numbers’. W05, W06, W07 anyone?

  2. There’s only so much you can do about your primary competitors’ incompetence and/or stubbornly going down the wrong design path for a second season in a row.

    1. Put a ballast on both cars to increase competition, when the opponents improve gradually remove ballast!

      1. Red Bull already ran extra weight last season, all it did was allow Ferrari to mistakenly believe that their car was competitive, and for Mercedes to continue pursuing regulatory means to force reality in line with their flawed sim data.

  3. Good to see the penalty for them cheating is having an impact…

    1. I think they have certainly learned their lesson. Reminds me how some bank years ago made billions illegally (the bankers made huge bonuses), and then the bank was fined millions (which the shareholders paid).
      Breaking news! I have just made up this rumour: RB are installing a new high tech hairstyling facility at the factory, for MV’s new personal care team, made up of ex-aerodynamicists. The new hair dryer is budgeted at 250 million, from the catering budget, and can blow air at 250 mph.

    2. It won’t this year, as they’d already done most of the ground work during the 2022 season. If their penalty has any effect, it should really be observed next year.

  4. No one else cheated – hmmmm one team has a one second min advantage on the rest of the field and has clearly used creative book keeping to hide their huge overspend. Spineless FIA do nothing about it.

    1. couldntstopmyself
      11th May 2023, 11:21

      You might be onto something (probably unbeknownst to yourself).

      The largest part of their 2021 overspend was linked to a tax credit (RDEC) application. Red Bull took it as a deduction in 2021, even though it wasn’t approved/awarded/credited in that year.
      If they got the tax credit in 2022, then they might very well have been able to use that extra room in the budget in 2022 and thus help them developing the 2023 car.
      And this is where FIA made the biggest mistake; they should have reduced the 2022 (or 2023) budget with at least the same amount as the overspend in 2021.

    2. Mostly a media thing. It was marginal. If such amount makes the difference then it is even more surprising others are not catching up.

      1. Quite right! The margin amounts to around 1 second per lap. And it (not) surprisingly makes a difference.

        1. Were RB not getting beaten by Ferrari on pace during the the start of these new regs at the beginning of last year?
          Let’s not pretend they gained an immediate, untouchable advantage like Merc enjoyed in 2014.

          1. This!

        2. RandomMallard
          11th May 2023, 23:22

          @biker56 If an approx $1.2 million advantage in budget (which is the maximum RB have been proven to have overspent, it could be lower depending on how people view the whole tax credit stuff) equated to 1 second per lap, then Ferrari should have spent most of the last couple of decades several minutes a lap quicker than the rest of the field.

          Did the overspend give RB an advantage? Probably. Can their whole advantage be explained by that? I can’t know for sure, but knowing they have Adrian Newey on their side, I don’t think it’s the only factor.

    3. Iloveconspiracytheories
      12th May 2023, 9:08

      Based on what are you saying that they clearly used creative bookkeeping to hide their huge overspend? They were caught for a minor (Limits agreed between teams and FIA when the budget cap was introduced so limits of what is huge or minor were known) overspend. Nothing else was proven.

      So what is me keeping from yelling that MB/Fer/McL etc. have huge overspend as well but their bookkeeping departments were better then the one of RB? If you really think there was more overspending by RB then was proven then you should also say that about the other teams as well. They all do the same. If one team is dominating then every TP is yelling that the rules should be changed or that something fishy is going on. If the dominating team looses that advantage the TP of that team joins the choire of other TP’s and the new domination TP steps out of that choire and defends his position. The last centuries this has become part of the F1 DNA it seems.

      And even if RB did it intentionally, why didn’t they then let AT take the fall? If they were clever enough to hide tens of millions of overspending then they are sure capable to put that in the books of AT instead of their #1 team RB and avoid trial by media.

      Last but not least. If this overspending gave such a huge advantage why weren’t the top teams lapping the back markers every 4/5 laps before the budget cap? Their spending was so huge compared to the back markers that should have given the a time advantage per lap of at least 25 to 30 seconds if the minor overspend of RB gives then almost 1 second to the fastest teams in the race.

  5. Red Bull have built a truly amazing car and should be applauded for that.

    They’ve done their job better than anyone else and have at least one driver that can fully exploit the package beyond the car’s standard capabilities.

    It’s a shame that it’s ruining the spectacle (for many of us) but that isn’t their fault.

    1. notagrumpyfan
      11th May 2023, 11:25

      It’s a shame that it’s ruining the spectacle (for many of us) but that isn’t their fault.

      I’m still surprised, and disappointed, that so many true fans (which I think this site attracts) focus only on the race win, rather than the fights throughout the field.
      I enjoyed Miami where the Haas and Williams seemed to be able to fight with the Mercedes, Alpines and Ferraris.

      1. I was thinking about this just the other day. It blows my mind that anyone would care about the midfield or any battle beyond the top 2 or 3 teams. I’m a true fan and have never cared about the midfield and never will. That’s for the poors.

        1. notagrumpyfan
          11th May 2023, 18:03

          I guess that makes me one of the ‘poors’.
          But luckily without any financial worries and enjoying my glass half full every race weekend ;)

        2. @darryn It might depend on what team you support. If you have a team that is fighting for 10-20 you focus on that but of course many fans have a favorite top team.

    2. Spot on. I’m a RB fan and don’t enjoy watching this at the minute.
      A good yard stick to show how Merc and Ferrari have badly underperformed is the Aston Martin.

      1. Goid point. AM does indeed reveal the lack of progress especially Mercedes and Ferrari have made. But also Alpha Tauri.

  6. Coventry Climax
    11th May 2023, 11:44

    So, @racefans, can we do a comparison of team laptimes between last year and this year (and the year before?), on the -same 5- circuits that have been raced on sofar?
    That, and only that, proves whether there’s truth in what’s being said, by Horner or anyone else.

    Would be nice to even make that a permanent page/menu item, with constantly updated data, so we can actually see which teams are developing fastest.

    1. notagrumpyfan
      11th May 2023, 18:11

      @KeithCollantine often (if not always) writes a whole article about lap time comparisons to last year.
      This is the one for Miami: https://www.racefans.net/2023/05/07/mclaren-slowest-in-miami-but-how-quick-could-aston-martin-have-been/.
      And others with the same title can be found here: https://www.racefans.net/category/regular-features/lap-time-watch/

      1. Coventry Climax
        11th May 2023, 19:32

        Yep, but there’s no overview to sum up how things are going for each team. Nor is any of it mentioned in this article. That could have easily taken the sting out of the controversy it now provokes, is what I’m saying.
        My opinion, given what’s been analysed sofar, is Horner is right.
        OK, Aston has got sufficient funding these days, while Williams’ funding is still a bit unclear, even if they say Dorilton is an improvement. But still, they too have made a huge improvement over last year (and years before).
        So why not the other teams?

        As for the second link you sent, that has nothing about 2022. I know, you said ‘often (if not always)’, but I interpret the dates on those articles differently. I still think having a dedicated page about it is a good idea. (OK, not surprising, as it’s mine ;-) ) I also think it fits the idea of ‘independant motorsport coverage’, as opposed to ‘controversy seeking’ social media/netflix style.

  7. I don’t necessarily see big upgrades coming from the other teams. It’s entirely dependent upon how much budget they have available for upgrades vs how much they’ve set aside for next years design work.

    The big teams no longer have the luxury of being able to spend their way out of a problem. That’s not a bad thing, but it does lend itself to the sort of situation that we have this year where a bunch of them really messed up their designs.

    One can only hope that they won’t make the same mistakes three years in a row and that next year the other 8 teams will make the sorts of gains that Aston have.

    Surely at least one team will be able to work out why the RBR car is so fast and duplicate it.

    1. Surely at least one team will be able to work out why the RBR car is so fast and duplicate it.

      They’d have to first admit to themselves that whatever design path they went down isn’t going to lead them to outperform the Red Bulls.

      Which, as we’ve seen with Mercedes, can sometimes be a much harder thing than one might imagine, especially if people high-up in the design office are married to their own terrible ideas to the detriment of the team.

    2. Coventry Climax
      11th May 2023, 19:39

      Which is why I’m no fan of the budget cap idea in the first place. After managing fuel, tyres, battery-power and what not for a single race, to managing the allocated windtunnel time, testing, you name it for a full season to now managing the budget over multiple seasons has all become part of it.
      Not my idea of motorracing actually, and certainly not for F1.

  8. Before the HybridV6 era Mercedes was a midfield team. It is not illogical they return back tot that. After all, their domination years were largely built on pre knowledge and firm grip of those HybridV6 regulations before they were introduced.

    1. This is true, they improved in 2013 but weren’t really a top team even that year.

    2. Lookiwroteacomment
      11th May 2023, 17:25

      They literally came 2nd in 2013 how does that not count as a top team? Their fall back to a midfield team is not something that should happen to a team that has the financing and the infrastructure that they have. The same should be said for Farrari, who should be ashamed of themselves for failing to deliver so regularly. The mercedes factory of 2010-2013 is not the same as today. The amount of investment merc must have poured into that factory must be insane. They don’t have the excuse of “our facilities are old and dated”, unlike the actual midfield teams. Saying things like, It is not illogical they return back to a midfield team, doesn’t make sense.

    3. The Dolphins
      11th May 2023, 18:28

      After all, their domination years were largely built on pre knowledge and firm grip of those HybridV6 regulations before they were introduced.

      @Mayrton do you mind providing more details and citing your source for this libelous statement?

    4. This continued myth that Mercedes success was entirely down to their power unit is so annoying.

      Comments by Horner and many others during their years of dominance denying that seems to always, and I mean always, be ignored.

    5. The same thing can be said about RBR and these regulations.

  9. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    11th May 2023, 14:05

    I raised a question in a previous comment about how Red Bull is effectively the only constructor with 2 teams in a sport of 10 teams. A lot of people said that the teams are completely independent.

    While there’s independence, is it 100% independence?

    Let’s break this down.

    Let’s start with racing.
    When it comes to racing, the best battles we’ve seen the past 10 years have been between Toro Rosso and Red Bull drivers. The Toro Rosso drivers are renowned for not giving any quarter to Red Bull stopping them dead in their tracks when they come up from behind. Who has forgotten Alonso’s epic battle in the Toro Rosso against Lewis Hamilton in the Red Bull in Hungary? If you don’t remember it, it’s because it wasn’t Toro Rosso and Red Bull. Toro Rossos disappear whenever a Red Bull is racing for position and probably provide a tow and extra DRS to benefit the Red Bulls.

    Drivers
    Well, Red Bull has 4 drivers and can choose to swap them if they are not performing, even mid-season. That’s quite an advantage as a constructor.

    Drivers
    Well, Red Bull has 4 drivers and can choose to swap them if they are not performing.

    Engines
    When it comes to engines, I feel they share the engines and Toro Rosso could well be the guinea pig when it comes to trying out changes or testing reliability. Of course, everyone will now tell me the engines are identical down to the last piston because the FIA weighs them and one of the people working there has X-ray vision and can detect the tiniest difference even in screws.

    Car Design
    When it comes to car design, this is the most sensitive topic because everyone is going to say that the rules prohibit sharing designs between teams but the rules prohibit a lot of things in soccer and we all know how that works. The last time there was an exchange of designs, it ended up in Spygate.

    Despite Newey’s brilliance, how likely is it that he got all the regulations right with every set of regulation changes? Statistically speaking, it’s unlikely but then again the man is brilliant and even if the 2 teams share designs, he still deserves the credit. Of course, the smartest thing would be to hedge your bets from a design perspective. That would produce a much higher likelihood of the upgrades working as long as the cars are similar in their design philosophies. You’d never find yourself in Mercedes or McLaren territory where things just didn’t work out. Of course, this would require a very complex way of communication between the 2 teams but surely there’s a channel between at least Tost, Horner, and Marko where they can share that information.

    Anyway, I know I’m stirring the pot but the discussion is valid. From every angle you look at this, having 2 teams benefits the #1 team.

    Imagine a soccer club that was the only one that had a youth academy and the other clubs were not allowed to an academy. The club with the only youth academy would probably demolish all the other clubs.

    1. You’re certainly not wrong about the advantages of having a second team. Red Bull takes everything and probably a little bit more from that partnership, but sadly that’s how it is all around the field with the actual engine supplier situation. No customer receives the same engines with all available toys.
      We have Ferrari and Haas working very closely together and as soon as one of them performs well it raises some eyebrows and rightly so. Alfa Romeo/Sauber have been Ferrari’s political ally for decades now and would never vote against their big sister.
      Not so long ago, Force India/Racing point was the Mercedes B team, the drivers even admitted they weren’t allowed to race the works team after lap one, but received a perfect copy in exchange.
      This role is now slowly taken over by Williams but to a lesser extent so far which could be one of the reasons why Mercedes is struggling a bit.
      Ferrari and Mercedes also placed and took drivers at their own discretion at and from their customers.
      The only independent team with absolutely no customer is Renault and look where they are.
      So, yes. Having one or two B-Teams helps and the closer you work together the better it is. It’s not a thing only Red Bull does, but detrimental to the sport as a whole.

      1. Renault had customers, but they underperformed, which was the catalyst of the split with red bull.

        I think red bull’s advantage with toro rosso is heavier than what the other teams get with a simple customer team though, toro rosso just plain don’t fight with red bull, while I’ve seen some drivers defend from their supplier team these years.

        Furthermore, the driver-swap possibility is also an advantage, other teams can’t swap as easily, as is ofc the possibility to test stuff on toro rosso, then use the knowledge for red bull as well.

    2. Coventry Climax
      11th May 2023, 20:03

      Even if there’s truth in what you’re saying, what’s keeping the other ‘top’ teams from doing the same?
      That’s like going to a contemporary art museum to say: “My nephew of 8 can paint that!” So what’s keeping him?

      Actually, Ferrari have been/are still running ‘second teams’, as is Mercedes. Yet even so, they fail to generate succes from it. Now whose fault is that, Red Bull’s? Don’t make me laugh.

      There was a time when each team had to develop their own chassis and basically all they could buy was an engine, that they then still had to take care of themselves. Nowadays, the FIA has a full -and growing- list of readymade parts that teams are allowed to buy and run, without ever having put in even one second of development. That, in my book, is poverty. Lack in bio-diversity, if you will. And it makes teams vulnerable to failures, just like it does mega-stables and (other) mono-cultures – plenty of examples for that.

      These failures though, are created by Ferrari and Mercedes, facilitated by the FIA regulations.
      Apparently though -and currently- not by Red Bull.
      Again; now whose fault is that actually?

    3. RandomMallard
      11th May 2023, 23:17

      @freelittlebirds

      Imagine a soccer club that was the only one that had a youth academy and the other clubs were not allowed to an academy

      I don’t think that’s what is going on here. There is no rule saying the other teams can’t have a second team (apart perhaps from the anti-dilution fee nonsense, but the teams put that in the Concorde Agreement themselves, and larger teams could always get around that by buying smaller ones), it’s just RB are the only team who have invested the money and resources to run 2 operations. There is nothing wrong with the concept of having 2 (or potentially even more) teams, as long as other rules are still followed, however I agree with you that this latter part is very important. To also use a football analogy, Red Bull have done this before with their football clubs. They own several (New York Red Bulls, RB Salzberg and RB Leipzig), and they also have a closer partnership than other football clubs normally would, but again, as far as I’m aware, they’re not doing anything wrong. The City Football Group (owners of Manchester City) are also a good example of this arrangement in football.

      Additionally, with your points about having 4 drivers, I again understand the crux of your argument but in many cases I don’t really see how it’s too different to having a Young Driver’s Academy. After all, Ferrari spent several years having control of half of Alfa Romeo’s driver lineup. And while it is undoubtedly more difficult to swap teams mid-season if they aren’t affiliated in the way the RB pair are, I don’t think Russell would have been in that Mercedes in Sakhir in 2020 if he wasn’t already affiliated to them and if Williams weren’t Mercedes engine customers; I just don’t see other teams being as happy to let one of their drivers go for a weekend. I’m not accusing anyone of wrongdoing here, I just don’t think it’s just RB who are involved in this kind of driver management.

      The last time there was an exchange of designs, it ended up in Spygate

      Personally, I would argue that a more recent example would have been the Tracing Point saga, especially as it involved a technical partnership gone wrong rather than all out stealing and infringement of intellectual property, which is what Spygate essentially boiled down to.

      I’m not trying to be argumentative, so I am sorry if it feels like that, and I agree with your general feelings that RB and AT should be somewhat scrutinised to ensure they are following the rules. However, as it stands, I don’t think they are doing anything wrong, and if any team had any evidence that they were, I think we would probably have heard about it by now.

    4. @freelittlebirds Having a second team can and should have a positive effect on the engine development/tryouts but the design is a really different staf and design as you notice best and worse car in the field.
      RB car development
      I think all teams don’t expected the floor rise to effect the car so much (For mercedes is is this worse as their design needs a low floor ride, Ferrari performs good but only in Qualify)
      Now Red Bull have a designer who knows all about groundeffects AND is the master of raised floors can influence the whole team on which idea/plan needs to be tested and which not which reduce developing time probaly by half.
      Adrian said he focused only on the suspension for this year (and some wing stuff)

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