The FIA has revealed the results of the 6 month plus adult it has undertaken the Formula One teams’ spending submissions for the 2021 season. “Compliance Day” was originally set for June this year but has been pushed back 3 times. Today the FIA revealed which teams will receive compliance certificates and which are in procedural and spending breach.
Formula One’s governing body’s web site crashed late Monday afternoon as the long awaited announcement was still not forthcoming.
The Williams team as expected received a mention for a procedural breach of the Cost Cap regulations back in March when their 2021 figures were submitted late. This incurred a $25,000 fine which will not be subtracted from the following seasons spending totals.
Red Bull only team that has overspent
9 teams were confirmed to be under the spending limit of $145m, though Aston Martin were confirmed to be in a procedural breach.
Red Bull Racing are the only team named by the FIA as having breached the cost cap limit though it is in the ‘minor overspend’ category.
Minor overspend can win a championship
A minor overspend can be as much as $7m dollars or 5% of the spending cap limit. The FIA will not reveal today the amount Red Bull has overspent though at the Singapore GP various team principals along with Lewis Hamilton claimed any overspend is worth tenths of a second per lap.
Lewis Hamilton claimed that if Mercedes had spent just $300,000 more in 2021 then it is likely he would have been world champion.
Wolff incensed at Red Bull breach
In Singapore Toto Wolff stated, “As a matter of fact, we all of us have been investigated diligently'”
“And as far as we understand, there’s a team in minor breach, which is more procedural, and another team that is fundamentally massively over and that is being still looked after.”
Fundamentally “massively” over was clearly directed at Red bull Racing and at the time suggested a ‘major overspend’ had occurred.
FIA leak to Mercedes
Christian Horner questioned how Toto could know this given the process of cost cap audit is confidential between the FIA and the teams.
This raised the spectre that Wolff had inside knowledge from the FIA and the figure of suspicion quickly moved towards ex_Mercedes legal advisor who had now taken up a position in the FIA as of June this year.
Red Bull Racing will surely demand the FIA investigate how the cost cap audit of their team was leaked by the FIA officials
Only 7 teams get FIA certificate of compliance
Due to the Williams procedural breach earlier this year and the Aston Martin breach of a similar nature revealed today, only 7 teams have been issued with “Certificates of Compliance”, they are Mercedes, Ferrari, Alpine, McLaren, Alpha Tuari and Haas F1.
Both Aston Martin and Red Bull may appeal against the decision and given Christian Horner’s comments even today this is likely.
“We’re very confident we’re within the cap and within those financial regulations,” Horner told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
A statement from the FIA added: “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.”
This is despite Toto Wolff claiming in Singapore that Christian Horner’s claims Red Bull had not been investigated were true.
“Funny that Christian says that because it has been weeks and months they have been investigated, so maybe he doesn’t speak to his CFO,” snarked Toto.
Red Bull respond to FIA
Red Bull Racing have responded to the FIA’s findings:
“We note the findings of the FIA of ‘minor overspend breaches of the financial regulations’ with surprise and disappointment.”
“Our 2021 submission was below the cost cap limit so we need to carefully review the FIA’s findings as our belief is that the relevant costs are under the 2021 cost cap amount.”
“Despite the conjecture and positioning of others, there is of course a process under the regulations with the FIA which we will respectfully follow while we consider all the options available to us.”
FIA limit their intervention for this year
Clearly the FIA sees the introduction of the cost cap and the audit of the teams spending a process, given they make reference to this being “the first year of the application of the financial regulations.” Further that this year their actions have been “limited to reviewing the submissions….. and no formal investigations were launched”.
Clearly precedents will be established from this year’s audit of the teams that will form further clarification in future of what spend is catabolised where. Manufacturers of course have power unit spending outside the cost cap this season and they may be blurred lines as to where certain spend should sit.
However, these categorisations of spending for F1 teams will be firmed up for future years.
Next steps for Red Bull
in addition to the option to appeal the findings, Red Bull could just enter into a “settlement agreement” with the FIA
In this scenario the team accepts it has breached the cost cap and a penalty is agreed.
If a settlement cannot be agreed the matter is then referred on to a panel of independent judges who will rule whether there is an offence and if so the appropriate penalty that should be applied.
Were Red Bull to be still unhappy then it can take its case to the FIA’s international court of appeal.
"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." pic.twitter.com/Ehuo7CQGJL
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) October 10, 2022