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Christian Horner

Red Bull want to see these changes to the F1 budget cap

In an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has given his views on what he would like to see changed among F1's tight budget cap rules.

Horner Verstappen
To news overview © XPBimages

The introduction of F1's new era in 2022 was met with an early verdict from many – these new cars are brilliant.

After competitive races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, it looked as if there would be another close title battle featuring Max Verstappen and new protagonist Charles Leclerc.

As the races went by it was clear that Red Bull had the advantage, but it didn't stop Ferrari from still challenging for podiums and race wins.

Speaking exclusively to RacingNews365.com, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner sheds some light on the current state of F1 following the first season with the new cars and effect of the cost cap, which took several years to introduce.

Horner was diplomatic when asked about whether the FIA, motorsport's governing body, could take F1 to the next level in years to come under the Presidency of Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

"The FIA has obviously been going through significant change, either its new stewardship or its leadership, and all aspects of the business we're all learning," said Horner.

"At no point does anyone know it all and that's whether you're a team, the FIA, the promoter, there's always things that we can do better.

"I don't think there's any single area that you would ever say, 'That's perfect', and I think that's the same as with a team. So there's always going to be constant evolution. And as long as that willingness is there, then things can only get better."

Small teams have greater powers than ever before

When Liberty Media took over from Bernie Ecclestone in 2017, F1 was presiding over the worst governance process in its 70-year history.

Six teams were granted disproportionate voting powers, with unanimity needed for minor technical and sporting rule changes.

For 2021-25 this process was refined to enable more equal voting rights on sporting and technical matters. If there is a vote in the F1 Committee, 30 votes are distributed: One per team, 10 for the F1 bosses and 10 for the FIA.

This means smaller teams now have the ability to introduce rule changes that can affect the bigger teams, much to the frustration of Horner.

"One could argue the little teams have too great a voice on implementing a significant rule that can effect the top teams, with things that quite simply don't affect them," he explained.

"Particularly through the budget cap, I think that's where the FIA and the promoter really need to look at."

Horner uses the example of technology partners entering F1 and wanting to showcase their products, but having to turn them down due to it coming under the budget cap.

He explained: "Just as a simplistic argument, technology partnerships and F1 have always been been hugely important.

"But when certain technology comes into a budget cap from say, for example, a computer sponsor who wants to give you a new laptop, you might not need the new laptop, but the sponsor wants it to showcase their product.

"However, when that product then comes under the budget cap and you have to turn it down, that's when there's areas that we can improve so as not to dissuade technology companies coming into into F1."

Budget cap rules will evolve

One of the key stories from 2022 has been how complex the new set of budget cap regulations have been for teams to understand.

It has already led to three teams committing procedural breaches related to administration and paperwork, with Red Bull going over the limit due to the nature of what is classed as being spent under the $145 million cap.

This is expected to continue while the rules are in their infancy and the FIA, along with the teams, refine the process. Despite his team coming under intense scrutiny after going over the cap, Horner says the cap is important to ensure F1 becomes cheaper in the long run.

"I think it's a very, very complicated set of regulations. And of course, they will evolve. What I would like to see is less pressure beyond the cap moving forward," he said.

"[As a team] your biggest driver of costs are the technical and the sporting regs. If we put more emphasis into what those costs and how those costs are driven, by those regulations, it will in turn put less stress on the cap.

"I think there's certainly things that will inevitably be difficult to police or even be questionable on whether they are legal to police – when you question things like salary caps and the like.

"So it's a process and it's a learning curve. I think there's many things in the budget cap that have been positive for this, but there [are] areas that can be improved and developed."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Could F1 introduce more standardised parts?

Standardised or 'off the shelf' parts have often been pointed towards as being a way to drive down costs in F1.

Horner thinks this solution could be used going forward for non-performance related aspects of the cars.

He explained: "For me, I think we should look at standardisation of certain components that are non-performance related. There's many things that could be looked at, in the drive line and so on, and I think we could have done more [in this area].

"With the engine, I think we could have introduced more standard components because it's still a very expensive engine the regulations have created for 2026.

"I think that the budget cap contains costs, but it doesn't deal with the fundamental aspect of reducing the cost of the products and I think that's where technical and sporting regs have a material effect on that."

The Red Bull team boss pointed towards the vast amount of people needed to operate the cars on a Grand Prix weekend.

He added: "When you think about it, you need 800 people to build two cars and you've got the question, 'Why? Why do you need so many people?' And this is what brings me back to the regulations, [which] are what drive that.

"So therefore if you focus on the technical and sporting regs it will naturally reduce the cost and the costs overhead. You've got to go upstream and look at where the cost drivers are, because the budget cap is effectively a dam of preventing the cost.

"But I think to really solve the root cause you need to go upstream and look at those technical and sporting regs where they drive the cost."

Increase in budget cap

Initially the plans for a budget cap in F1 were to have it at $175 million, but with the coronavirus outbreak came uncertainty for a lot of teams about their financial situation.

As a result, they opted for a $145 million in 2021, which was reduced for 2022 to $140 million, with 2023 set to be reduced to $135 million, albeit with an inflation correction added.

But Horner believes this should be increased due to the inflation rates taking place globally – particularly in the UK where half the grid is based – which reached an all-time high of 14% in September 2022. This decreased to 10% as of December 2022.

"When you see inflation, certainly in this country [the UK] at 10% and so on, that has a one-on-one effect, and it unfairly affects employees and long start long-serving employees," Horner continued.

"I think that there needs to be a little bit more slack while still remaining responsible in the system to account for just an increase in the cost of living."

He also argues for an increase in favour of the additional Sprint races and growing calendar, as F1 looks set to contest its longest ever season at 23 races.

"With the races that we have and the proximity of those races, the spares that are required to service those, when you introduce Sprint races you need to carry more spares because you can't afford not to race," he said.

"They all have unintended consequences that impact the bottom line. So I think that that needs to be taken into consideration from 2024 onwards."

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