The FIA has announced that Red Bull breached Formula 1‘s cost cap that came into effect for the 2021 season.
The limit was set at $145 million for last year’s championship, but after a formal review, Red Bull has been found guilty of a “minor overspend breach”. It was also confirmed that both Red Bull and Aston Martin committed a procedural breach.
Only certain costs related to the running of the race team is included in the budget, and it doesn’t cover things like driver salaries.
Nine of the 10 teams were below the spending limit, including Aston Martin, but only seven have received a certificate of compliance, with Williams the other outfit found to have committed a procedural breach earlier in the year.
A minor breach means Red Bull exceeded the cap by up to 5% or $7.25m, but the FIA did not reveal the exact figure or the punishment it would hand out.
The FIA statement read: “The review of the Reporting Documentation submitted has been an intensive and thorough process, and all competitors gave their full support in providing the required information to assess their financial situation during this first year of the Financial Regulations.
“The FIA Cost Cap Administration notes that all competitors acted at all times in a spirit of good faith and cooperation throughout the process.
“The FIA would also note that 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.
“The FIA Cost Cap Administration is currently determining the appropriate course of action to be taken under the Financial Regulations with respect to Aston Martin and Red Bull and further information will be communicated in compliance with the regulations.”
Possible sanctions available to the FIA include a deduction of championship points, suspension from sessions excluding races, a reduction in aerodynamic testing, or a reduction to future cost caps.
Red Bull responds
Red Bull was quick to publish a response, insisting the news was met with “surprise and disappointment.”
Christian Horner has been adamant he had complete confidence that his team’s submission would be below the permitted amount.
The statement added: “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 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 respectuflly follow while we consider all the options available to us.”
Red Bull can appeal the outcome or enter into a settlement agreement with the FIA, which would be an admission of guilt and still subject to a penalty.
What has been said about a cost cap breach?
Speculation had been rife that the two teams in question had fallen foul of the 2021 financial regulations before the FIA statement, with both Toto Wolff and Mattia Binotto weighing in on the matter
The Mercedes and Ferrari Team Principals were adamant that even a “minor” breach would yield a significant advantage, insisting that any penalty reflect the seriousness of the offence.
On Sunday at Suzuka, Binotto said: “If there is a breach, the penalty has to be significant. Our car has been developed respecting the budget cap and we know how much even a minor breach would have implied in performance.
“$5m is about half a second, $1-2m is 0.1 – 0.2 seconds, 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.”
Lewis Hamilton also said ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix that as little as a £300,000 breach could be championship defining, but backed FIA president Mohammed bin Sulayem to “do what is right for the sport.”