Reigning Formula 1 constructors’ champions Red Bull Racing have been found guilty of breaching their £114m budget cap for last season but are unlikely to have their titles revoked.
The decision yesterday by motorsport’s governing body the FIA stated that the energy drink branded outfit had outspent their $140m budget and committed a procedural breach of the cost cap regulations.
Aston Martin and Williams were also found guilty of procedural breaches but did not outspend their budget caps. Williams were fined $25,000 earlier this year for a similar misdemeanour.
Action to be determined
The breach was expected within the Formula 1 paddock although there had been reports that one team had breached their budget by over five per cent – the threshold to change what is classed as a minor breach into a major one. However, Red Bull’s violation was below that level.
The FIA said it was “currently determining appropriate action” in response to the breaches, adding: “With respect to this first year of the application of the financial regulations, the intervention of the FIA cost-cap administration has been limited to reviewing the submissions made by the competitors and that no full formal investigations were launched.”
Potential penalties for minor breaches include: deduction of points for the driver and/or constructor in question, a reprimand, suspension from one or more stages of the competition, reduction of the next cap, and limitations on car testing.
Lack of detail
The FIA is yet to confirm the specifics of the breaches but did stress that “all competitors acted at all times in a spirit of good faith and cooperation throughout the process”.
Red Bull today said: “We note the findings by the FIA of ‘minor overspend breaches of the financial regulations’ with surprise and disappointment.
“Our 2021 submission was below the cost cap limit, so we need to carefully review the FIA’s findings as our belief remains that the relevant costs are under the 2021 cost cap amount.
“Despite the conjecture and positioning of others, there is of course a process under the regulations with the FIA which we will respectfully follow while we consider all the options available to us.”
Some team principals, including Mercedes’ Toto Wolff, as well as a number of drivers, have previously called for any breaches to be punished severely to ensure repeats do not occur. Current F1 managing director Ross Brawn has previously said that those who “break the budget cap” should “lose the championship”.
Formula 1 has been criticised for delaying the publication of the findings for a number of weeks and Monday’s decision has received some backlash for its lack of detail.
Ferrari’s team principal Mattia Binotto said on Sunday that breaches below the five per cent threshold were still significant. He added: “$5m is about half a second, $1-2m is 0.1-0.2secs, which can be the difference between second on the grid to pole.
“It is about 2021. And also over the following seasons. I am expecting full transparency and clarity on the discussions they have had.”
Five per cent of Red Bull’s budget equates to around $7m but it remains unclear as to the precise amount the team was found to have breached the cap by.
Both Red Bull and Aston Martin have the chance to appeal the decision and any subsequent punishment the FIA chooses to hand out.