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Red Bull Racing

Exclusive: Horner on the 'inevitability' of the 2022 regulation changes

In an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com, Christian Horner gave his verdict on Formula 1's regulation changes, and how he expects the performance gaps to change for 2023.

Leclerc Verstappen Spanish GP 2022
To news overview © XPBimages

Christian Horner believes that Formula 1 fans will be treated to a tighter battle for the championships in 2023, following Red Bull's unprecedented dominance.

Following one of the biggest regulation overhauls in Formula 1 history, the Red Bull team fought against Ferrari's early pace and their own reliability issues to emerge as the dominant force of the 2022 season.

In winning the development race against Ferrari, the RB18 was driven to 17 Grand Prix victories in the hands of championship winning Max Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez.

However, any major shake up of the grid order, to the scale of what was witnessed after the 2009 season regulation changes, did not materialise, with the top three teams consisting of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.

Such was the performance of these teams, there was only one podium finish for the remaining seven teams: McLaren's Lando Norris at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com, Red Bull's Team Principal Christian Horner believed that a performance gap to the top three teams was always likely to happen, but expressed confidence in all ten teams 'converging' for 2023.

"It's inevitable after a big regulation change, I think I said it last year, there'll be teams that have got it right and they'll be teams that have got it wrong," commented Horner.

"Who would have imagined that Mercedes have only won one race this year, after all the success that they've achieved in the previous eight years?

"We were fortunate that we got it right, and we won a lot of races as a result of getting it right, but that will converge and I've got no doubt that the statistics will look a little different again in 2023."

Horner: Continued Red Bull domination 'unrealistic'

Following race-ending reliability issues in two of the first three events, Red Bull went on to win 16 of the remaining 19 Grands Prix, including all-but-one race in the second half of the season.

As well as overcoming the ever-present qualifying pace of Ferrari, Red Bull also defended against a minor resurgence from Mercedes, whose season was blighted by a flawed car concept.

When asked if he believed Red Bull could continue their dominant form into 2023, Horner said he was anticipating a strong fightback from their rivals.

"I'd love to continue to dominate! But it's somewhat unrealistic in this business, because the other teams are simply too good," responded Horner.

"They will have learnt a lot of lessons from this year, and I'm sure that cars will converge significantly in '23.

"The biggest winner from that is the fans, it's obviously more stressful for the teams, but the winner is the sport if there's more competition."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

'We never gave up in the difficult years'

Red Bull's return to championship contention comes after a string of off-the-pace seasons.

Their outstanding double-championship success of 2013 was followed by a run of mostly unsuccessful years in the turbo-hybrid era.

Mercedes' dominance meant Red Bull took 'only' seventeen wins from 2014-2020, before Red Bull's first championship-challenging, V6-powered car emerged in 2021.

Horner believed that Red Bull's success in 2021 and 2022 was testimony to the work of the 'core' team during their less-successful seasons.

"I think the team spirit and culture that we've always had has never lost belief or sight of the target of wanting to get back into a winning position," commented Horner.

"Obviously, we did have a few lean years off the back of the dominance in the V8 [engine era], to a big regulation change with a V6, but everybody focused on their part and doing the best that they could on the areas that they could influence.

"We kept a very strong core, we developed some young talent and that's really starting to pay dividends."

The Briton then highlighted the significance of the power units used by Red Bull during their difficult years.

A previously-successful partnership with Renault turned sour in the turbo-hybrid era, before the team switched a more fruitful Honda collaboration.

"Once we managed to address the missing link - which was the powertrain - then the results started to come: Firstly, in the Drivers Championship last year, then for the biggest regulation change we've seen in 40 years," added Horner.

"The team did an outstanding job in adapting, in a very short space of time, to these new regulations, and that's due to the strength and depth that we have."

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