Red Bull Racing has agreed to pay a fine of $7 million and restrictions on aerodynamic research for next season after it was found to have breached the cost cap in the 2021 season.
Following talks with the FIA, the motorsport governing body said that Red Bull had overshot the cost cap by less than 5%, meaning that it only faced a financial penalty and potential limitation of testing in preseason.
In a statement detailing the Accepted Breach Agreement (ABA), the FIA said the team had gone £1,864,000 over their allocated budget for 2021, primarily due to the exclusion of £5,607,000 which it said should have been included in the total.
The costs in question ranged from social security contributions to catering services, including one infringement related to the “Understatement of Relevant Costs in respect of provisions set forth by Article 4.1(a)(i) of the Financial Regulations (concerning the cost of use of Power Units).”
“The Cost Cap Administration considered it appropriate, in these circumstances, to offer to RBR an ABA to resolve this matter…given the limited nature of the Procedural Breach in issue and the fact that the Minor Overspend Breach falls at the lower end of the <5% minor overspend range, and RBR’s willingness to accept the breaches and to cooperate with the Cost Cap Administration,” the FIA said.
“That offer was accepted by RBR.”
Money money money
Since reports first surfaced ahead of the Singapore GP that two teams in the paddock, later revealed as Aston Martin and Red Bull, the issue has prompted calls team bosses including Toto Wolff and Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto for strong sanctions against anyone found to have gone over the budget.
While Aston Martin’s breach was found to be procedural, the questions around Red Bull’s 2021 financials continued to swirl, with particular focus on how any overspend could have contributed to Max Verstappen’s closely fought title battle with Lewis Hamilton.
Both Verstappen and Red Bull team boss Christian Horner have brushed off the criticisms of rivals on the grid, saying they remained confident that the FIA’s investigation would find any discrepancies in their accounts to be procedural.
In its statement, the FIA acknowledged that Red Bull had been cooperative “throughout the review process and has sought to provide additional information and evidence when requested in a timely manner.”
It added that “this is the first year of the full application of the Financial Regulations and that there is no accusation or evidence that RBR has sought at any time to act in bad faith, dishonestly or in fraudulent manner, nor has it wilfully concealed any information from the Cost Cap Administration.”
Given the complexities of the rules now governing the spending and the fact that this is the first comprehensive review process for everyone involved, the FIA underlined that it did not believe Red Bull to have acted contrary to the laws as they were written.
However, that may not placate the team’s critics in and out of the pitlane, as the full details of the investigation are likely to remain unpublished.