Newey laughs: ‘Ironically, the rules had the opposite effect’

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Newey laughs: 'Ironically, the rules had the opposite effect'

The budget ceiling has been in force in the premier class of motorsport since 2021. That was also the year that Mercedes’ many years of dominance came to an end through a tough battle with Red Bull Racing. Since then, new aerodynamic regulations have been introduced, and Red Bull has disappeared over the horizon. Adrian Newey expects that the current situation can last for a while.

The budget limit was introduced to improve the financial situation of the Formula 1 teams and to accommodate the ‘little ones’. These small teams were disappointed that the pecking order was determined by budgets, so they never had a chance to compete with the big teams. However, since the budget ceiling, little has changed in the proportions: the four best teams of 2021 are still the best teams.

Ground effect

Newey, Chief Technical Officer at constructors’ champion Red Bull, sees that the tone was immediately set with the introduction of the current aerodynamic regulations. Mercedes in particular is having a hard time figuring out the car, but Ferrari and McLaren are also still falling short compared to Red Bull. The Brit explains that this has a lot to do with the ground effect. “The Venturi rules cause complications in aerodynamics, which the previous cars with a flat bottom and diffuser did not suffer from,” Newey tells Motorsport.com. An important detail here is that Newey wrote about the ground effect during the final project of his PhD study.

Status quo

So, apart from some technical problems in the opening races of 2022, Red Bull had a flying start with the current regulations. Since the start of 2022, 48 Grands Prix have been held. Of these, Max Verstappen won 37, and Sergio Pérez four; a total of 41 victories. The remaining seven races were won by Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, with three victories each, and George Russell, with the only Mercedes victory in the current era.

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Verstappen won his tenth race in a row in Italy last year.

According to Newey, this extreme degree of dominance is maintained by the budget ceiling. ‘We are now working with the budget limit. The result is that once you start on the wrong foot, it is extra difficult to come back from it, compared to years in which expenditure was less limited. Ironically, the rules that were intended to bring the teams closer together have arguably had the opposite effect,” the master designer smiles.

Under the current regulations, teams like Mercedes have no financial space to build a new car if they initially miss the mark. A real B-car has therefore become a thing of the past. In addition to the budget rules, there are also rules that mean that the top teams have less CFD simulations and wind tunnel time. Red Bull also served an additional penalty last year for exceeding the limit in 2021, but this penalty appears to have few consequences for the time being.

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