- Red Bull
New engines introduced at 'exactly the wrong time' - Horner
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes the changes in engine regulations this year have come at the wrong time for Formula One as costs continue to spiral upwards.
The first pre-season test of the V6 turbo era is taking place this week in Jerez, with all teams present apart from Lotus, which intends to run its car for the first time in Bahrain, and Marussia, which is hoping to run later this week. The first day was tricky for all teams as they spent the day debugging their new cars and trying to understand the new engines and energy recovery systems.
Although there is no going back now, Horner believes the added costs of the new engines will mean smaller teams struggle.
"The problem with the rule change at the moment is that it's probably exactly at the wrong time to do it," he said. "It's hugely expensive and probably the biggest and most expensive rule change we've had that I can remember in Formula One.
"Obviously Formula One has to move with the times, has to be relevant with the automotive sector to maintain interest from the automotive suppliers, but one has to question the timing of this introduction because there are a lot of cars without stickers out there. It's inflicting a great deal of cost for the customer teams, the works teams less so, but for the customer teams there is a significant impact."
Asked to put a number on the rising costs, he said: "It's impossible to predict because it's not just the engine, it's the ancillaries that go with it. You could be looking at 20%-25% increase."
Horner said the biggest hit to budgets would come early in the new engine era before costs begin to settle down and certain aspects of the new powerunits are frozen in the regulations.
"From a technology perspective it's fascinating and they're pieces of art, they really are," he said. "It's incredible what the engineers have come up with, but as is usually the case when you allow engineers to come up with regulations, cost is not always at the top of their priority list. Hopefully over time as things settle down and homologation sets in costs will settle down."