Horner: Aero handicap rule ‘perverse’ for smaller teams

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says F1’s future aero handicap rule could end up defeating the purpose for which it is intended, as the sport’s smaller teams could be encouraged to spend more money on R&D.

F1 teams agreed on Friday to a wide-ranging set of regulation changes designed to drastically cut costs to help the sport ride out the current coronavirus crisis.

In addition to the introduction in 2021 of a $145 million budget cap, teams have also agreed to an aerodynamic development sliding scale handicap system which will give midfield outfits more wind tunnel and CFD (computational fluid dynamics) time to help them close the gap to the front runners.

Horner, who insists he’s no fan of “handicap racing”, believes the scheme could prove impactful in providing F1’s smaller teams with more development time for 2022.

    F1 teams ‘agree drastic cost-cutting measures’ – rule changes

“We have a budget cap and now we also have this sliding scale on the ATR,” Horner told The Race.

“Thankfully, while we weren’t able to get rid of it in its entirety, it has been adjusted so that it’s a linear line between first and 10th, rather than isolating the first three, and more time being available from fourth onwards.

“It is what it is, we’ll see how it works, what effect that has. It could be quite significant in a year of new regulations that are totally removed from what we currently have.”

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However, Horner noted that the aero allowance handicap system, which has yet to be formally approved for 2021, is a tad contradictory to F1’s ultimate goal of bringing down costs for the sport’s smaller members.

“It’s somewhat ironic you are basically encouraging little teams to spend more money by having more testing available to them,” observed the Red Bull Racing boss.

“It’s slightly perverse in that respect, but it does give more development time the further back down the order you are, which as we know in F1 has a significant impact.

“The budget levels, where they’re at now, there’s probably six teams that were operating beyond the [planned cap].

“That means that they should be able to maximise their activity within the cap and development.

“It will be interesting to see how it works.”

While the rules will hopefully help F1’s backmarkers improve their performance relative to the front of the field, Horner insists “the cream will always rise to the top”.

“Even in fixed formulas, I remember Red Bull [Arden] running a Formula 3000 team for several years where we had every component fixed but we still managed to win a championship three years in succession,” he said.

“Because it’s about the people, the drivers, your application, how you apply to those regulations.”

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