Red Bull found to have committed minor breach of 2021 F1 budget cap | Formula One

The FIA has ruled that Red Bull did exceed the budget cap for the 2021 season. The sport’s governing body has concluded its assessments of all the Formula One teams’ budget submissions for last season and found, as was alleged at last week’s Singapore Grand Prix, that Red Bull had committed what it referred to as a “minor breach” of the stipulated $145m (£127m) ceiling.

Aston Martin were found to have committed a procedural breach of the cap, amounting to an error on forms, not going over the permitted spend.

A punishment for Red Bull racing has not been revealed. A minor breach is an overspend of less than 5%. The FIA did not reveal the exact figure relating to the breach although it is understood to amount to less than £2m. Anything above 5% would have been considered a material breach (5% equates to a spend of $7.25m or £5.6m) and carried potentially more serious penalties, including the deduction of points or the exclusion of a team from the Formula One world championship, which would have potentially changed the outcome of last year’s title race, narrowly won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen over Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

A statement from the sporting federation read: “The FIA cost cap administration has issued certificates of compliance to seven of the 10 competitors.

“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 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.”

Mercedes and Ferrari are unlikely to be happy with the outcome of the investigation. Both have been vocal in pointing out that even an overspend of several million can have a major material effect on the performance of a car and in the knock-on development it can take into the following year.

Mercedes in particular will feel aggrieved that it occurred during a season when there was so little to choose between their car and Red Bull and when Verstappen and Hamilton were vying for every point.

2021 was the first year the budget cap has been used in the sport. F1 will now have to seriously consider whether, as it stands, it is fit for purpose. It was implemented, with full agreement from the teams, as a means of attempting to level the playing field between the big three, Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari and the rest of the paddock.

It was always known it would be hardest to achieve for the major players whose budgets were in cases almost double the cap but they had several years to undergo restructuring in order to meet the obligation. However, there is a real danger other teams now may view that as an acceptable price to pay for the extra performance the additional funds may contribute, once more opening a divide in the field.

During the Singapore race weekend, the Mercedes principal Toto Wolff had described it as an “open secret” in the paddock that two teams had overspent in 2021 and made it clear he believed Red Bull was one of them. His Red Bull counterpart, Christian Horner, hit back, insisting he believed their financial submission was within the budget cap and threatened legal action against what he called Wolff’s “defamatory” remarks.

Verstappen won this year’s drivers’ championship at the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday after triumphing in controversial circumstances at Suzuka.

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