The biggest question heading into the 2023 season will be, can anyone stop Max Verstappen?
The two-time champion answers the question himself in an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com, explaining how he expects 2023 to be more competitive, given how the new regulations enable closer racing.
"The others are not stupid. And certainly with these rules, which are a bit more restrictive than the previous set of rules, everyone is getting closer together," he said.
"All teams now have an idea of which course to take so yes, I expect smaller differences next year, but that's only good.
"Of course I hope that we are still ahead, but that is not at all as obvious as this year."
Red Bull already have a disadvantage heading into 2023, having been the winning Constructor they will be required to run the fewest amount of wind tunnel hours and computer simulations for their car development.
On top of that, the team was given a penalty for going over the $145 million cost cap, resulting in 10% fewer hours in the wind tunnel and 10% fewer computer simulations.
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Verstappen believes cost penalty 'heavy punishment'
Verstappen also revealed that the team is restricted on spare parts due to the budget cap, which has led to a different approach each weekend.
"You have to be a little more careful than in previous years. Before you thought 'damn, there goes a front wing, but we'll put a new one in'" he explains.
"Of course the people in the factory are still not happy about that and I have apologised many times, but it wasn't a real limitation, no matter how much work it was to get such a new part made.
"Now, however, we have to be more careful, for example in the free practice sessions, because it is no longer easy to say 'oh, we will put a new floor under it'."
The Dutchman says the penalties levied towards the team in the wake of the cost cap saga are a "heavy punishment" but insists they can bounce back given the foundation of success from the RB18.
"Probably everyone is more motivated because of this. I personally think it is a heavy punishment for what we have done, but yes, what can we do about it? It happened and we will see next year what effect it really has had on us."
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