The Formula One budget cap is set to fall into disarray as the FIA are having to investigate three teams for potential 2021 breaches. The spending cap for last season was agreed act $140m but AMuS is reporting 3 teams at least are in breach of that amount.
The budget cap does not cover driver salaries or engine costs at present and it appeared the lack of a universal agreement to include all spend be problematic.
A cynic may suggest part of the motivation for Red Bull Power Trains is because unlike Ferrari and Mercedes, RBR have no other automotive manufacturing activity where research and development costs can be ‘shipped off’.
Teams are breaking budget cap
Of course power units are set to become part of a budget cap, but for now its a convenient place for manufacturer teams to get a little bit of work done ‘on the side’.
The German media speculates two of the teams believed to be in breach of the 2021 spend are Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing who they claim overspent last season by $5m.
Of course excess spending in 2021 may also have impacted the 2022 cars as teams start building their cars over 6 months before the launches in February.
Red Bull named
Red Bull have denied these reports as “just speculation” according to Andrew Benson of the BBC.
Due to global inflation the bigger teams were arguing the budget cap be increased for 2022, which the FIA eventually agreed to – upping the limit by 3.9%.
However Christian Horner has previously remarked, “I think all the major teams are going to breach that $140m cap this year. But what is the penalty for a minor breach? The budget cap was there to limit the top teams from a spending frenzy.”
The FIA have not properly defined what the penalties are for breaches of the budget cap, just listed a vague list of potential offences.
FIA understaffed to check budgets
Ferrari are almost certain Red Bull have breached the budget cap this year. Mattia Binotto commented about the looming new Red Bull upgrades.
“As Ferrari, we will never be capable of introducing a lightweight chassis or a different strategy through a season, simply for budget cap. I will be very surprised if other teams would be capable of doing it.”
Binotto also believes the FIA are unable to properly monitor the budget cap
“The number of people monitoring it in the FIA is very little, so it has to improve for the future. Because it will be really bad if a championship somehow is dictated by a financial regulations and not technical and sporting.”
Helmut Marko was asked by Sky Germany for comment
“Various accountants from the FIA are with our accountants,” he said.
“Then a discussion arises about different roles, who works where. We have different companies: RB Advanced Technologies, RB Technology, RB Powertrains, and you have to separate them very clearly.”
When asked whether Red Bull Racing have breached the budget cap, Marko responded, “No I can’t comment at the moment. Its an ongoing process but from our point of view, No!”
“There are parts of the spend that do not belong in the budget and as I already mentioned people are listed who work in different companies.”
Marko is unhappy the FIA appear to have leaked their findings on Red Bull’s budget cap investigation.
“It’s weird because its an ongoing process and there are matters yet to be clarified. Yet it shouldn’t have been made public as its damaging to reputations”
The FIA was called out around the turn of the millennium for not having the expertise and manpower to scrutinise the cars properly. It appears they are under similar pressure to police the budget cap, which F1 needs to prevent.
AMuS believe the FIA will issue statements before Japan next week on how they are progressing with the budget cap investigations and that Red Bull Racing is probably to receive just a fine from Formula One’s governing body.
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