Red Bull has been found to have breached Formula 1’s spending rules for Max Verstappen’s first drivers’ championship crown.
- Formula 1 introduced a spending cap of US$145 million for last season to make the sport financially sustainable
- Red Bull have said they believe they had not breached the cap when they submitted their financials in March
- Max Verstappen won the drivers’ championship for Red Bull in 2021 with victory in the final race of the season
The sport’s governing body, the FIA, announced on Tuesday morning AEDT that Red Bull was the only team to breach the cost cap introduced in 2021.
Red Bull’s Verstappen won his first drivers’ championship in 2021, overtaking Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the final race to win the title.
On Tuesday, the FIA said Red Bull had committed a “minor financial overspend” in 2021, meaning their spending was less than 5 percent over the cap.
Aston Martin turned out to have had a procedural problem in submitting their paperwork, but they didn’t spend too much.
“The FIA Cost Cap Administration is currently determining the appropriate course of action to be taken under the Financial Regulations in respect of Aston Martin and Red Bull and further information will be communicated in accordance with the regulations.”
A cost cap of US$145 million ($230 million) was introduced last year as F1 sought to become more financially sustainable.
Red Bull issued a statement following the breach announcement saying their submission of paperwork – which was submitted to the FIA in March – was below the ceiling in their view.
“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 below the 2021 cost cap,” they said.
“Despite the presumptions and positioning of others, there is of course a process under the rules with the FIA which we will respectfully follow as we consider all the options available to us.”
Consequences for this breach may include “financial sanctions and/or minor sporting sanctions may be imposed”.
This could include Red Bull being stripped of points from last season.
Verstappen won the championship by a paltry seven points in 2021, but controversy over a late
Mercedes and Red Bull had a historic battle for the drivers’ championship in 2021, with Red Bull’s Verstappen overtaking Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to win the title.
Procedural issues during a late safety car, which allowed the final lap to be run under a green flag, remain a source of debate among fans.
The then race director Michael Masi was removed from his role in the wake of the controversial season finale.
What is F1’s cost cap?
F1 imposed a cost cap on teams’ spending last season at US$145 million.
First announced in 2019, the cap was introduced to reduce the gap between the top teams and the back marks on the web.
The amount has shrunk to $140 million for this season and $135 million for 2023.
The ceiling covers expenses related to the car’s performance.
Marketing costs, racing driver fees and the salaries of the team’s three highest paid employees are not included in the cost cap.
Other items excluded are travel expenses for race and test weekends, fees to enter the championship and the purchase of super licenses.
What are the penalties for breaking the limit?
The FIA has two levels of cap violations – minor and major.
A minor breach is a team that goes less than 5 percent above the limit, while a major breach is considered a team that exceeds the limit by more than 5 percent.
The penalty for a breach is not set in stone, with a range of options available to the F1 hierarchy.
Less serious penalties may include a fine or a reduction of their cap for the following seasons.
But teams could potentially be stripped of competition points.
The FIA lists these as possible penalties for a minor breach of the ceiling:
- Public reprimand
- Deduction of constructors’ championship points awarded for the championship that occurred within the reporting period of the violation
- Deduction of drivers’ championship points awarded for the championship that occurred within the reporting period of the violation
- Dx included for the avoidance of doubt the race itself
- Limitations in ability to perform aerodynamic or other tests
- Reduction of the cost ceiling
The FIA has not announced what penalties Red Bull will face.
Rumors of Red Bull’s overconsumption circulated
The FIA was supposed to certify the teams’ costs last week, but announced it would be delayed until now.
In the run-up to the planned certification, rumors emerged that two teams – Red Bull and Aston Martin – had exceeded the US$145 million limit.
The issue was at the heart of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend in the paddock, with team principals at Mercedes and Ferrari saying a break from Red Bull would be severely punished.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff described Red Bull’s alleged overspending investigation as an “open secret” while speaking to Britain’s Sky Sports F1.
“We’ve all been carefully examined and as far as we understand there’s one team that’s in minor fractures, which is more procedural, and another team that’s basically massively over and still being looked after,” said he.
“It’s an open secret in the fold.”