Formula One’s latest paddock drama is over the forthcoming FIA certification of compliance with the 2021 budget cap. The teams submitted their accounts for last season in March this year and since then teams of accountants have been pouring over the numbers. The budget cap for 2021 was set at $145m but this did not include drivers’ salaries, power unit spend and a host of other exemptions.
Due to the less than precise budget cap regulations it will take the teams and the FIA a number of years to hone what exactly should be within the spending limit and what is excluded.
In an astounding interview with Sky F1 following FP2 in Singapore the Mercedes boss accused Red Bull of being ‘massively’ beyond the sp[end limit allowed for 2021.
FIA leak cause chaos
Wolff asserts that the overspend not only gave Red Bull a winning advantage for 2021 which saw their driver Max Verstappen win the drivers’ title, but that this cascades into 2022 and even 2023.
A leak from the FIA this weekend suggested 2 teams are in breach of the 2021 spending limit which are supposed to be Aston Martin and Red Bull racing.
However, given the relatively vague nature of what spend is included and what is outside the regulations, the regulations are in a process that will become more defined over the coming seasons.
Ambiguity in FIA spend rules
For example, identifying which personnel within a team are within the budget cap and which are excluded is a work in progress.
For a power unit manufacturer someone may sit within the PU section of the operation, yet do work on the harmonisation of the chassis and the engine.
Power unit spend currently is outside the budget cap, so where does the cost of such an individual sit?
FIA response to Wolff
This evening the FIA responded to paddock rumours of Red Bull’s massive overspend on the 2021 limits.
“Alleged breaches of the Financial Regulations, if any, will be dealt with according to the formal process set out in the regulations.
“The FIA notes significant and unsubstantiated speculation and conjecture in relation to this matter, and reiterates that the assessment is ongoing and due process will be followed without consideration to any external discussion.”
Penalties for a more than 5% breach of the budget cap could see a team excluded from an entire world championship, theoretically handing Lewis Hamilton the 2021 Formula One drivers’ title.
Yet such a draconian action would throw the sport into chaos and is unlikely given the FIA are just finding their way on how to define what spend is allowed and what is not.
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 30, 2022