When the covers come off the 2023 challengers, Christian Horner expects many to be looking like the Red Bull or Ferrari.
There was great excitement going into the 2022 campaign as new Technical Regulations came into force, threatening to shake up the established order in Formula 1.
As it turned out, Red Bull would dominate the season, claiming 17 of the 22 grand prix victories. Ferrari took four of the leftover wins, with the other going to Mercedes.
Especially in the first half of the season, Ferrari’s F1-75 challenger was seemingly the fastest on the grid, before Red Bull turned their RB18 into the dominant race car.
And with the teams having returned to the drawing board for their 2023 challengers, team principal Horner thinks rival teams will take inspiration from the RB18 and F1-75, now that they have seen what works.
Red Bull also will receive the least amount of wind tunnel time out of all the teams, not only because of winning the Constructors’ title, but also due to their extra reduction as a result of committing a minor breach of the 2021 cost cap.
“It’s tough because it is a handicap,” Horner told Channel 4 in reference to Red Bull’s upcoming development restrictions.
“But I think what you’ll see in ’23 is that the cars do converge, and I’m sure there’s a few more cars that will look a bit like a Red Bull or a Ferrari.
“I think having got this number one on the car, having regained the Constructors’ World Championship is a huge motivation to maintain at that level.”
Skipping back to 2021, it had been Red Bull and Mercedes battling all the way to the last lap of the season in pursuit of the titles, that scrap seemingly having taken a bigger toll on Mercedes than Red Bull.
And so Horner said it was beyond Red Bull’s “wildest imaginations” to secure both 2022 titles in such a dominant manner.
“To be honest, I think it was beyond our wildest imaginations,” said Horner about the achievement.
“With ’21 being such an intense year, Adrian [Newey’s] focus had really been on ’21 and the team beneath him had to do the groundwork on the 2022 car, so it felt like we were going to come into the season on the back foot.”
Red Bull must avoid a 2022 reversal in 2023
While Ferrari started out as the fastest team in 2022, Red Bull arguably got the most important part right by continuing to improve throughout the season to reach their peak at the key moment.
Ferrari meanwhile, already nursing self-inflicted wounds, found their development path to be sub-optimal as Red Bull turned the season into a one-horse race.
But next season, with their time in the wind tunnel restricted, Red Bull may be the ones fighting to ensure that rival teams do not use their advantage to add performance as the season reaches its latter stages.
But of course, they are likely to start in a very strong position, so the other teams will have their work cut out to mount and sustain a challenge.
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