Formula One finally put its latest paddock wide row to bed. The FIA agreed with Red bull racing a settlement agreement which saw the team take a $7m fine – the second largest in F1 history – and a 10% reduction in the aero testing hours for 12 months. There was a a surprising and relatively sanguine response from the likes of Toto Wolff and Otmar Szanfauer to the FIA’s penalty.
That said there were those who believed the FIA had failed in their job on social media together with F1 ‘experts’ who questioned whether the sanctions were tough enough.
Red Bull press conference reveals all
Red Bull boss held as promised a mighty press conference and was open to all questions from the media. Horner explained they believed the aero testing time reduction would hurt the team for the next 12 months costing between 0.25-0.5 seconds a lap o the 2023 car.
He further refused to apologise for his team’s breach of the FIA cost cap spending limit but called on rivals who have maligned Red Bull publicly accusing them of “cheating” to retract their ill informed statements.
McLaren, who are a Mercedes power unit customer, appear to have led the witch hunt over Red Bull’s overspend of the 2021 financial regulations.
Paddock consensus ‘justice has been done’
CEO Zak Brown wrote to the FIA demanding the Milton Keynes team receive a reduction in their budget allowed and a 20% reduction in aero testing hours. He also claimed teams in breach of the spending limits were “cheating”.
Elsewhere in the paddock there seemed to be a genuine sense of relief the issue had been concluded given Red Bull could have fought the matter until well beyond the start of the next F1 season.
Despite having suggested Red Bull should suffer a 20-25% reduction in aero testing hours last weekend in Austin, Sky’s Martin Brundle called the penalty “fair, if a little light”.
Christian Horner had explained that despite certain spend from the team being outside the limitations of the cost cap, they had finally agreed to allow the FIA to include it for a quick resolution to the toxic issue – and to avoid potential greater penalties being administered.
McLaren continue anti Red Bull rhetoric
Though McLaren team principal was dismissive of Horner’s ‘transparency’ press conference. He said the FIA penalty for the Red Bull overspend is a ‘punishment that doesn’t fit the crime.”
Andreas Seidl called for harsher penalties in the future for similar spending rule breaches and when asked whether he had listened to Christian Horner’s explanation at the press conference appeared dismissive.
“No, I didn’t listen to it. I can imagine it was another fairy tale hour, probably. No, I’m not really interested in that,” Siedl told Sky F1.
In terms of the FIA’s introduction of a process to audit the F1 teams’ spending he added, “In the end, on the positive side, it’s good to see that the FIA did a good job in terms of doing the audit. Nine teams got it right and it was clear one team was in breach. That’s a positive outcome.
“One the negative side, it’s clear the penalty doesn’t fit the breach. I just hope that moving forward we have stricter penalties in place.”
“I just hope, if there’s any breach again, that there ends up being a proper penalty.”
Christian Horner warned at the media event that the cost of living crisis may see other teams fall foul of spending limits for the 2022 season.
The Red Bull boss believed his outfit was in the clear and cited examples of being the team who sends the 6th least freight to each F1 event and his world champion driver having suffered less collision damage than any other driver on the 2022 F1 grid.
Andreas Seidl again takes an opposing stance on Horner’s view of teams struggling to make the 2022 spending limits.
“There’s absolutely no reason to be in breach this year,” said the German. “We had good discussions earlier this year with all teams, the FIA, Formula 1 regarding these topics. That’s why the cap was adjusted [upwards].”
The cost cap has been a success for Formula One given the leading teams could spend upwards of $4-500m a year in the space race that is F1 development.
However the cost cap represents less than 50% at present of a Formula one team’s competitive spend for a year because power units, driver salaries and other high end spending items are at present excluded.
As TJ13 reported, until the power units are included as restricted spending items, the cost cap is just a first step on a journey that may see Formula One in a much more secure space in years to come.
— Mark Gallagher (@_markgallagher) October 28, 2022