Helmut Marko explains only reason Red Bull accepted penalty

Christian Horner on Red Bull's success and hints at next step

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Helmut Marko has admitted Red Bull only accepted their “draconian” budget cap penalty to avoid legal issues. The Red Bull chief doubled down on Christian Horner’s remarks that losing development time could cost them lap time in 2023.

However, he admitted the team could have faced a battle in the courts which could have lasted a whole year if they challenged the decision. The FIA hit the team with a 10 per cent reduction in wind tunnel testing and CFD development for breaking the cap.

The reigning champions were also slapped with a £6.4million ($7m) fine. Marko told Laola 1: “I agree with Christian Horner, who spoke of ‘draconian’ and estimates that we lose two to five-tenths per lap.

“The key will be to work even more efficiently to offset the disadvantage… We accepted the penalty because we wanted to avoid a possible year-long legal battle.”

Red Bull were hit with sanctions after the FIA found them to have overspent last season. The constructor had gone £1.8m ($2.2m) over the cap but the FIA accepted this would have been just £432,000 ($0.5m) if the team had submitted their tax returns correctly.

Red Bull’s testing time for next season is already limited due to winning the Constructors’ Championship. Including the penalty, the team will have 15 per cent less wind tunnel allowance than Ferrari and 21 per cent less than Mercedes in 2023.

It could have a major impact on Max Verstappen’s bid to defend his world title next season. Marko’s comments echoed statements made by Christian Horner at the Mexican Grand Prix immediately after the team learned of their punishment.

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Horner stressed the sentence was “enormous” and would have a major impact on the performance of next year’s car.

He said: “We’ve been provided a significant penalty, both financially and sportingly, from the seven million dollars – which is an enormous amount of money, that is payable within a 30-day period – and obviously the more draconian part is the sporting penalty, which is a 10 per cent reduction in our ability to utilise our wind tunnel and aerodynamic tools.

“And that, I’ve heard people reporting today [that it] is an insignificant amount – let me tell you now, that is an enormous amount. That represents anywhere between a quarter and half a second worth of lap time.”

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