Red Bull hints at further delay to new F1 rules, prolonged factory shutdowns

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Formula 1 is inching towards a further delay of the new technical regulations until 2023, Red Bull boss Christian Horner says.

A new era in car design was expected to begin next year but, in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it was officially confirmed on Tuesday that would be postponed until 2022.

Just when that decision reached several weeks ago was rubber-stamped, however, it now seems F1 is fearing the impact from Covid-19 will require even bigger measures to be implemented.

"We're also talking about pushing back a further year the new regulations because in my mind it would be totally irresponsible to have the burden of development costs in 2021," Horner said speaking to the BBC.

"There seems to be a reasonable agreement but it needs ratifying by the FIA to push back those development costs into 2022 for introduction in the '23 season.

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"The most important thing we need now is stability because the one thing we know is that whenever you introduce change you introduce a cost,"  the Red Bull boss added.

"And stability right now and locking down as much of the car as possible is the most responsible way to drive those cost drivers down."

Another suggestion has been to reduce F1's new budget cap for 2021 to potentially as low as $100m according to Auto Motor und Sport, but the Red Bull boss only wants to see concrete action that will reduce spending.

"There is a positive and healthy discussion going on among all the teams to be responsible - and it's not just about the cap," Horner explained.

"The cap is a ceiling. It is almost secondary as far as I'm concerned, it is reducing the cost in order to go racing.

"With, let's say, 60% of the chassis frozen for the next 18 months, that will have a dramatic effect on reducing the operational costs of a Grand Prix team, whether that be for Red Bull or Williams."

In an effort to help F1 make up for some lost races later in the year, it was agreed to bring forward the summer factory shutdown until before the end of April and hold it over three weeks versus the usual two.

With no events scheduled until the Canadian Grand Prix in mid-June, however, that could be another measure that is extended. 

“There will be a discussion during the break weekly and I can only see it being extended,” the Briton said somewhat ruefully.

“I can see it being extended to the end of April, beginning of May and then reviewed again. There will be a discussion among the team principals, FIA and FOM in the next few days.

“It's the only fair way of dealing with it because it’s a competition at the end of the day. What's right and logical at the moment is everybody abides by the same rules and the shutdown, incorporate FIA conditions to it, until the teams are in a position to go back to work.”

The financial impact on F1 is huge, however, with Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko telling Austrian TV channel ORF Liberty Media was anticipating lost revenue into the hundreds of millions.

And Horner is one of several figures to draw comparisons the last big global economic hit.

“Obviously, we're looking at what the government have communicated,” he explained. “All the teams again, all the HR managers between the teams are talking so there is as much consistency as possible.

“It's very positive the teams are communicating in a positive and proactive manner. It reminds me very much of the 2008 financial crisis but this goes way beyond that.”