Formula One usually has a back story brewing into a huge argument. Most recently it was over the ‘porpoising’ issues where teams like Mercedes who were suffering more extreme car bouncing were asking the FIA to change the car regulations in the ope it would bring Red Bull and Ferrari back towards the pack. The FIA specified new regulations mid season around the plank and the floor, yet Red Bull since the modifications have in fact gone strength to strength.
The latest row bubbling up is over the budget cap. It appears the FIA have leaked the fact that at lest two teams are in breach of the 2021 spending limits set.
In an extraordinary interview with Sky F1 following FP2 Toto Wolff accused Red Bull Racing of cheating.
Wolff accuses Horner of gross misconduct
The Mercedes team boss says Formula One faces a “heavy weight” issue claiming Red Bull have been in breach of the FIA’s budget cap.
“It’s heavyweight,” he said. “That’s massively heavyweight.
“We are using used parts, we are not running what we would want to run, we are not developing what we could be developing. We’ve made more than 40 people redundant that are dearly missed in our organisation.
“It was a huge mammoth project to make the cap. I don’t know how many tens of millions we had to restructure and reprocess to be below the cap. If someone has not been doing that, or pushing the boundaries, every million is a massive disadvantage.”
Horner plays down rumours
Christian Horner was asked about the accusations and he replied, “We’re certainly not aware of any [breach],”
“The accounts were submitted back in March, so it’s been a long process with the FIA. We’re in that process as we speak.
“They’re rightly following that process and I think next week is when they declare their certificates. Our submission was below the cap, and it’s down to the FIA to follow their process, which they’re currently doing.”
The teams had to submit their accounts to the FIA back in March and have had a team of accountants studying whether teams have met the $145m budget cap.
Wolff believes Red Bull breach is ‘massive’
In response to Horner’s comments about the FIA process continuing, Wolff revealed: “It’s funny that Christian says that, because it’s weeks and months that they are being investigated. Maybe he doesn’t speak to his CFO.
“All of us have been investigated diligently and as far as we understand, there’s a team in [a] minor breach which is more procedural and another team that is fundamentally massively over. That is being look after, that’s an open secret in the paddock.”
Sky’s presenter Simon Lazenby pointed out if the alleged breach was major as Wolff suggested then the team could be deducted points retrospectively, suggesting maybe Max Verstappen could be stripped of his 2021 drivers’ title and Lewis Hamilton instated instead.
Fo course some of the spend Formula One teams make each year relates to the development of the following seasons car.
Wolff made the point that overspend in one year then affects the subsequent one.
“The crucial part is that if you’re over in 2021, you’re over in 2022. That means that you have an advantage into 2023.
“If it’s true they’ve homologated a lightweight chassis this year, they may use it next year. It’s a real cascade of events that can be influential in all the championships.”
FIA deadlines for compliance
The FIA have broad brush penalties listed under ‘minor breach’ and substantive breach’ and a minor breach would be around $7m.
The leaked FIA information suggests that Red Bull may have committed a ‘minor breach’, but Wolff believes this is not insignificant.
“Even if it is the so-called minor breach, under 5%, you can spend 7 million more than everyone else, and this means if this is a light penalty we will all be pushing those 5% going forward,” Wolff said.
“You need to imagine, we have a pool of $140 million. If you’re spending 5 or 10% more than everyone else, that’s many, many tenths of a second. We couldn’t reduce our overweight which is double-digits this year, because we simply didn’t have the money to produce and put on the new parts. You’re fighting a totally different league if you’ve been pushing the limit upwards.”
The FIA are due to issue their financial certificates of compliance next Wednesday, though the deadline for these has been pushed back twice already.
Sparks flew under the lights in Singapore on Friday! ✨
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 30, 2022