Despite Mohammed Ben Sulayem announcing he was stepping down from the FIA’s day to day running of Formula One it appears those he upset are still sharpening their knives.
Nikolas Tombazis who was Ferrari’s chief designer for 9 years now holds the position of F1 supremo as the FIA head of single seaters and the point of contact for the teams over day to day matters.
FIA President calls for F1 India return
This weekend Mohammed Ben Sulayem attending the inaugural E-Prix in Hyderabad, India. He talked up the idea of a return for F1 to the sub continent, something which is the responsibility of F1 and not the FIA.
Whether this ruffled already highly sensitive feathers or not is unclear, though Stefano Domenicali has now called on the FIA to sharpen up its act.
During the 2022 season, the FIA was supposed to conclude its reports and queries on the F1 teams’ financial submissions by the end of June.
The process inn fact dragged on until the last weekend in October when Aston Martin and Red Bull racing were found to be in breach.
Cost cap must be better policed this year
F1’s CEO Stefano Domenicali has now issued a hurry up call to F1’s ruling body. Speaking to Sky F1 he says, “For the credibility of the sport this kind of action, to check if everyone is respecting that rule, has to be done earlier than later.”
I was leaked early in October that Red Bull was in breach of the cost cap which caused weeks of speculation and outrage in the global F1 media.
Team bosses weighed in giving their opinion as the acrimony became rampant; to the point that Christian Horner claimed his staffs children had been bullied at school.
FIA financial team “too small”
TJ13 believes just 5 officials at the FIA audited the 12 teams’ financial submissions which is clearly a deficient number to undertake such a task.
Whether the FIA has recruited or engaged some third party support for this years finance audits at present is unknown but Dominicali is bringing the matter to the fore.
“So we are discussing, and this is on the FIA’s side to make sure that the control and the certification would be done much earlier. Because the effect on and if some teams will be out of it, has to be done in a proper way in as short a time as possible to be more credible.
“We see other sports that are taking the financial regulation with, in my opinion, too long time for a reaction and this is not good.”
FIA fail to indicate cost cap review
Given the frequent pronouncements emanating from the FIA over the winter, there has been a noticeable silence on the matters surrounding the cost cap.
Team bosses and F1 pundits alike called for a review of the ‘minor overspend’ category and a clear indication of the penalties and how they will accrue. For now we have to assume any future minor breaches will be treated in a similar fashion as to the punishments handed out to Red Bull racing.
The consensus of opinion believes the ‘minor overspend’ category which spreads to $7m is too large and should be reduced, though this would require agreement at the F1 commission which to date has not discussed the matter.
All eyes on Red Bull’s punishment
Domenicali adds the impact of Red Bull’s penalty on their performance, “is a point on which I see there will be a lot of attention this year.”
However even if Red Bull win both championships again, can it be said their penalty wasn’t harsh enough?
The sliding scale of reducing aero testing time based on a team’s position in the championship is a handicap system in its infancy too.
How Red Bull would have faired without the incremental 10% reduction, or had it been 20% is unknowable. So any comment as Domenicali suggests there will be on Red Bull’s ultimate performance in relation to the penalty, will be mere speculation at best.
Red Bull punishment will not affect their chances
F1’s CEO concludes by hoping no team was in breach of the cost cap for last season.
“I’m pretty sure that everyone understanding now what is the effect [of a breach],” said Domenicali.
Red Bull Racing did not take part in the ‘dry run’ and submit the financial reports for 2020. It appears that their breach was due to mis-categorised spending and had their submission been accurate, they wold not have failed the FIA’s audit.
Rather than argue the matter for weeks and months, Horner and the Red Bull management team decided to agree a settlement and take the punishment on the chin.
The RB18 was so superior to the rest of the field, that even the penalty of 10% reduction in aero testing time – whilst it will have an effect – will not see the current F1 champions relegated from their position at the head of the field.