Mercedes says Red Bull are exaggerating wind tunnel penalty impact

Formula One champions Red Bull are exaggerating the impact on next year’s car of reduced wind tunnel testing as punishment for a cost cap breach, Mercedes’s trackside engineering head Andrew Shovlin said on Saturday.

(L-R) Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director of Mercedes GP, Laurent Mekies, Scuderia Ferrari Sporting Director and Alan Permane, Sporting Director at Alpine F1 attend the Team Principals Press Conference.

(L-R) Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director of Mercedes GP, Laurent Mekies, Scuderia Ferrari Sporting Director and Alan Permane, Sporting Director at Alpine F1 attend the Team Principals Press Conference. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Formula One champions Red Bull are exaggerating the impact on next year’s car of reduced wind tunnel testing as punishment for a cost cap breach, Mercedes’s trackside engineering head Andrew Shovlin said on Saturday.

Formula One champions Red Bull are exaggerating the impact on next year’s car of reduced wind tunnel testing as punishment for a cost cap breach, Mercedes’s trackside engineering head Andrew Shovlin said on Saturday.

Red Bull have agreed to pay a fine of $7 million for spending more than allowed last season and will also have 10% less time to test in the wind tunnel over the next 12 months.

Team boss Christian Horner told reporters at the Mexico City Grand Prix on Friday that the wind tunnel reduction was ‘draconian’.

“That represents anywhere between a quarter and half a second’s worth of lap time,” he added.

Shovlin questioned that assertion, saying: “I think describing it as draconian is an exaggeration.

“Reducing the number of runs (in the wind tunnel) does limit your freedom when you’re developing a concept but we’re in reasonably well-explored regulations now.

“You definitely have to be more efficient but if it were half a second, which I’d heard mentioned, then a team at the back of the grid would have over three seconds advantage to one at the front and that simply isn’t the case.

“It depends on how well you make decisions during the year. I’d have thought a tenth (of a second) or maybe two-tenths at the upper end is realistically what that would cost you.”

Red Bull finished runners-up to Mercedes in the constructors’ championship in 2021 but won the drivers’ title with Max Verstappen. This year they have won both crowns.

Ferrari’s racing director Laurent Mekies said the good news from Friday’s announcement was that the governing FIA had reached a clear conclusion, but he felt the punishment was insufficient.

Mekies said Ferrari had looked into how much you could do to improve the car if you spent half a million, a million or two above the cost cap.

“With our numbers as Ferrari two million euros seems like something that would have a significant lap-time influence, would influence races... we certainly feel it is low,” he added.

“We don’t see it on the same scale as being able to compensate the overspend that was done, especially combined with the fact that ultimately it is not combined with any budget cap reductions for them.

“You are completely free to spend your money elsewhere. You will spend it a bit less in the wind tunnel where you have these 10% restrictions, you will spend it somewhere else.

“Altogether what will remain of the real impact of the penalty will probably be very small.” 

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