The car-damaging incidents at the two successive rounds of the Formula 1 championship, Silverstone and the Hungaroring, put damage costs very much in the news in this era of F1 cost caps. Any money spent on damage repairs is money not spent on improving the car. For many teams, this has always been the case. But in the past accident damage made no dent on the development programmes for the top teams. That’s no longer the case and, as such, it’s become a controversy.
Red Bull was particularly hard hit, with Verstappen’s 5g impact with the Copse Corner barriers at Silverstone – after tangling with Lewis Hamilton – costing what team principal Christian Horner reckons was £1.3m-worth of damage (top of page). The team then suffered a further heavy damage bill to both its cars in Hungary, triggered by a first corner error from Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas. At both races there was also accident damage to Honda power units, which may have turned out to be terminal, potentially triggering penalties later in the season.
“It’s hugely frustrating for Honda as it’s not due to reliability,” said Horner, “it’s because of accidents that we haven’t caused. So they’re feeling the brunt of this as well as we are on the chassis side. It’s not to be underestimated on the cost cap side. It’s something that does need to be looked at because in a cost cap environment, it’s brutal… I think we need to revisit this with the FIA as it’s something that can affect all teams, not just Red Bull.”