Cost cap penalty forces Red Bull to switch focus to 2024

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BUDAPEST, Hungary -- After the success of a new upgrade package at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Red Bull has switched its development focus to next year's car in order to mitigate the impact of its penalty for breaching Formula One's cost cap in 2021.

On Sunday, Max Verstappen secured victory at the Hungaroring with a 34 second margin over Lando Norris in second place and said his updated Red Bull was like a "rocket ship" over the course of the 70-lap race.

At the midway point of the season, Verstappen now has a 110-point lead in the drivers' championship over teammate Sergio Perez, while Red Bull has a 229-point lead over Mercedes in the constructors' standings.

The update to the Red Bull included a revised floor and reprofiled upper bodywork, resulting in an advantage of nearly 0.5s per lap during Sunday's grand prix.

With such a large advantage in place, the RB19 will now only receive smaller upgrades for the rest of the season, aimed at tailoring the existing package to the demands of the 11 remaining circuits.

Team principal Christian Horner said the aerodynamic testing restrictions imposed on Red Bull as a penalty for breaking F1's cost cap in 2021 meant the team could no longer commit its valuable research and development time to this year's car, instead focusing fully on 2024.

"The upgrades [in Hungary] did what they said on the tin, so from that point of view it's a box ticked," Horner said.

"Now, with the handicap that we have, we have to really swing our focus over to next year because we have a significant deficit in wind tunnel time compared to our competitors and we have to be very selective in how we use it.

"We have a few circuit-specific things [still to come in 2023], but nothing that hasn't been done already or committed to in research and development."

Under F1's Aerodynamic Testing Restrictions, which apply a sliding scale of development capability based on where each team finishes in the constructors' championship at six month intervals, Red Bull has the least wind tunnel time and CFD (computational fluid dynamics) freedom of any team.

On top of that, it also has a 10% reduction in aerodynamic testing in place until October as a result of its cost cap breach.

Horner said rival teams -- including McLaren, which has emerged as Red Bull's closest competitor at the last two races -- still have a significant advantage in car development.

"We have that penalty until October this year, so particularly in terms of the amount of runs you can do per week, we are significantly down compared to second, third place and massively down compared to teams in fourth and fifth.

"So if you compare what McLaren can do in the wind tunnel compared to ourselves, it's a huge difference.

"Of course, we have to be very selective in the runs that we are doing, and that's where the engineering team back in Milton Keynes are doing an incredible job, the way they are effectively and efficiently developing the car."