Why the end of Red Bull’s penalty is bad news for the competition

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There was quite a stir surrounding Red Bull last season after the
Milton Keynes-based outfit was found to have breached the budget
cap in 2021. With that breach influencing a year in which Max
Verstappen narrowly beat to the title in a
controversial title battle, rivals demanded an explanation. But
there was displeasure with the penalty that was subsequently handed
out to Red Bull: a $7 million fine and a restriction on car
development. Starting on October 26 last year, a 365-day period
where the team's ATR was reduced by 10 per cent was imposed on top
of the 30 per cent reduction already given by the sliding scale
testing regulations aimed at keeping a level playing field. The
penalty has seemingly left Red Bull unaffected with Verstappen
utterly dominant this term, securing 15 of the 18 races held en
route to a third consecutive title. The team has also already
wrapped up the Constructors' championship. Red Bull dominates
with no end in sight This season's dominance has been
extraordinary. Red Bull took both world titles early and, aside
from Verstappen's stunning form, saw Perez pick up two of the
remaining three victories. Now that the penalty is lifted, the team
can now spend more time on development at the factory compared to
the rest of the year. With the shift to next season's machinery
made early on given the performance of the RB19, it would seem the
team is already a step ahead of the competition. Second in the
championship Mercedes, for example, is still upgrading the W14 to
try and find learnings ahead of next season and whilst the Silver
Arrows collect data, Red Bull is already settled with its work at
the factory. With Adrian Newey as Chief Technical Officer, Red Bull
has perhaps F1's best technical mastermind. While Mercedes is
making strides – as is McLaren – can they stick with the might of
his group of engineers? Add in the released ATR time and the
question marks for the competition grow ever larger. Is there only
bad news for the competition? There are positives to be taken for
Red Bull's rivals, however. By virtue of winning the title again,
the team only receives 70 per cent of its wind tunnel time. With
Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari and Aston Martin all backed by great
facilities, the sliding scale rules should help the gulf increase,
even if it is little by little With a technical team standing tall,
a strong basis from the RB19 and such a vast amount of time focused
on preparing the new car, there is no reason for Red Bull not to
hold its advantage into next year. It would be great for F1 if, as
in 2021, there was a big battle for the championship for now, it
seems Red Bull has its fate in its own hands and Verstappen would
not lose a second of sleep should he be dominating again.

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