Points deduction for Cap breach applied the following year

The FIA find themselves in a bind following the revelations yesterday that the cost cap for the Formula One 2021 season was breached by Red Bull Racing. The overspend has been classified as ‘minor’ which means it is within a 5% variance of the $145m limit set.

However, if the overspend was up to the full 5% this would mean Red Bull had an extra $7.25m in their budget which is huge.


As Martin Brundle noted on Any Driven Monday, that sort of extra cash, “that’s a massive upgrade on a car, or even a B-Spec [car] for some teams.”



FIA range of minor overspend too large

Further the implications go way beyond the year of the budget cap breach. 

“Other teams are saying ‘look this gives you a head start for 2022, the cars are carried over for 2023, so this is a big advantage’,” added the Sky commentator.

The reason the FIA are in a bind is because the ‘minor overspend’ range of actual dollars is way too large and the range of penalties runs from a reprimand, reduction in CFD/wind tunnel time, cut to following years budget and even to driver and manufacturer points deduction.

But how much overspend deserves a reprimand? Then what is the next penalty to be applied?



F1 sporting or financial penalty

The lack of clarity as to whether overspend should be a sporting regulations penalty or a financial one has not served the FIA well.

Lewis Hamilton has claimed had Mercedes spent another $300,000 he would have won the championship. The fact he and Mercedes decided – for performance reasons only – to fit a new power unit at round 19 in Brazil, winning there and the next two races at a cost of around $7m is neither here nor there.

The next question for the FIA is did the overspend actually affect the 2021 season or was it allocated to the 2022 car development?

Brundle: FIA should “crack down hard” on Red Bull



FIA and Red Bull to agree penalty

Because if a sporting penalty like a points deduction is to be applied then it should fall where the benefit of the illegal spend was made. Otherwise penalties become arbitrary and lose the respect of the paddock.

For this very reason the FIA have created a process where now Red Bull Racing and they will meet. They will try to agree a settlement.

Red Bull may wish some of the alleged overspend recategorising and the FIA would prefer them to accept a penalty quickly. If the matter can’t be resolved at this stage, panels of Judges get involved and possibly even the FIA International Court of Arbitration.



FIA deduct points the following year

The first decision to be made and will set a precedent is whether the Red Bull sanction is of a sporting nature, financial nature or both.

Gary Anderson, ex team chief designer, believes he has a pathway the FIA can use to plot how to apply penalties based upon existing financial arrangements between the FIA and the teams.

If a race season is cut short by one race, the teams’ budget is cut by $1.2m. This is the value the FIA places upon the points the teams can score in a race argues Anderson.

“So use that $1.2m per race cost when penalising an overspend. For every $1.2m a team has overspent by, that’s one race it can’t score in,” says Anderson. This of course also solves the conundrum of whether it is the manufacturer or driver points that should be deducted. Both suffer.



F1 Finacial and Sporting penalty

The FIA have a regulation about team’s missing races, so a team being banned from scoring in a race would still need to attend to avoid further sanctions.

Anderson further argues the overspend should be removed fro the following seasons budget.

“As an example, an overspend of say $6m in 2021 means you remove the points from the team and drivers for the last five races ($1.2m per race) of 2022,” Gary continues.

“With the cost cap for that team in 2022 also reduced by $6million so a cost cap for that team of $134m this year.”



No rewriting F1 history

The any overspend in 2022 would see the process repeated in 2023. This of course prevent s F1 having to continually rewrite the history books and crown new champions 9 months after the FIA gala where the seasons prizes are presented.

“So it becomes more of a forward problem – which gives them an opportunity to do something about it rather than a past problem for the team committing the offence,” Anderson concludes.

The original audits for the 2021 season were due to be completed by June 2022. Whether you believes the FIA has dithered or just been finding its way, with just 4 races to go Anderson’s example would not work on a $6m overspend. There are too few races left.

Yet as the FIA audit process improves, this solution provides both a financial and sporting penalty for a team in breach, and they get advance notice of where the penalty will fall rather than a retrospective decision which may feel unpalatable all round.

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4 responses to “Points deduction for Cap breach applied the following year

  1. OF COURSE other teams want stringent penalties … but what would be their view if THEY were deemed to have overspent? The penalty system CANNOT be altered NOW … it has already been written for last year! Did any team complain THEN about those written rules? My understanding is that they were all involved in creating them! WE should NOT be pushing the FIA in ANY direction – we don’t know the value of the overspend, or in which category it was deemed to have occurred. And we really DO NOT want to read that any team that challenges the findings might incur FURTHER penalties for launching such a challenge! That’s quite ridiculous. If Red Bull dispute the findings, they MUST HAVE the opportunity to challenge them. Other Teams, however, do NOT have the right to challenge FIA findings – and more should they. Sour grapes abound.

  2. I like this idea. But I would change it and make it negative points based on the average points scored per race in the overspend year. So let’s say RB’s overspend is worth 3 races and they scored on average 35 points per race and MV scored on average 22 points per race, SP scored on average 15 points per race, the team starts on -105, MV on -66 and SP on – 45. That way they are forced to race and not just take it easy to protect their engines and cars during the non scoring races.

  3. If they don’t deduct points and hence the championship from the cheats Red Bull and Verstappen for 2021, I’m done with F1. It’s a pantomime.

  4. Unfortunately sport has an unwelcome some who find it acceptable to cheat.
    What the FIA have to decide and we are not party to is how to punish.
    In my opinion. There is a strong possibility that the driver championship both last year and this year could have been different without the extra development the overspend brings.
    Max is a fantastic driver and I feel somewhat sorry for him to be let down by his team. He may well have won both his world championships even if his team hadn’t cheated.
    Ben Johnson was an fantastic 100mt runner…

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