Aston Martin huge budget cap breach? A brilliantly entertaining 57-lap show. Fernando Alonso deserved his title of “Driver of the Day” at the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday. If he was dreaming of winning in Sakhir, his third place at the wheel is truly an achievement. At 41 years of age, at the wheel of an Aston Martin that didn’t look like much last year, the Spaniard shone brightly with his actions on the track, his racing intelligence and his unfailing composure in the face of temporary annoyance.
A tireless worker, once again starting from scratch with a new team this winter, he gave everyone a lesson in passion for this sport. But questions might be asked as to how the green machine from Silverstone achieved such a performance leap, in particular by their rivals. Could it be that Aston Martin has been in breach of regulation for the budgetary cap put in place to level the playing field? Information has been given to this website to suggest that this could be the case.
“He is in the form of his life…”
“He is in the form of his life”, summarised a very admiring Helmut Marko of Red Bull, who at 79 years of age, has seen others in Formula 1. Like everyone else, the Red Bull special advisor saw the Spaniard break through like a tornado with his Aston Martin.
Trapped by Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes at turn 4, he was also hit by his team-mate Lance Stroll who outbraked himself in the sister Aston Martin
“I was hit at n°4. It can’t happen like that”, he commented on the spot. Before being overtaken by the second W14 of George Russell.
TJ13 Fantasy F1 league results after Bahrain GP
On lap 13, he retook George Russell in a clinical manner at turn 4. Then he tackled a bigger player, Lewis Hamilton…
The first attempt to overtake, on lap 37, he struggled to slow his AMR23 and the seven-time world champion passed again. But the black car was on borrowed time.
“Nando” did not take long to prove his old McLaren rival right. Not knowing where to turn, cornered, Lewis Hamilton went into a slide on re-acceleration at turn 9. More than enough.
At turn 10, the two-time world champion made his move for fifth place. “Yes, let’s go”, he shouted on the radio, galvanised by his magnificent manoeuvre.
Podium on debut
Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari stopped with an engine failure enabling Alonso to after his compatriot Carlos Sainz in the other SF23 Ferrari car overtaking him on the back straight.
“I avoid the kerbs…” said Alonso to his engineer, “But if the situation changes behind, I will increase my pace,” he said.
He didn’t need this precaution. Sainz, who had no tyres left, crossed the line almost ten seconds after Alonso. This Aston car is truly a serious machine, for the Bahrain circuit at least.
Beyond the sensational debut for Alonso at Aston Martin Racing questions are being asked as to how the Silverstone based customer team to Mercedes were able to leap from consecutive seventh place championship finishes in two years, to challenging the established top three the following year.
Budget cap ‘cheating’?
Back in the Autumn, this website was contacted by a source within Aston Martin suggesting that tactics were being used to negate the budget cap, we duly reported on this in January this year. Former Aston Martin team boss Otmar Szafnauer who moved this year to Alpine Renault, also suggested this loophole in the regulations on two occasions now this year.
This ‘cheating’ loophole would allow teams to carry out development work outside the sport’s budget cap, corroborating the situation our source claims is occurring in Silverstone.
Without actually accusing rival, or former teams of breaching the cap which was introduced two years ago, Szafnauer has warned that teams could potentially benefit from development work done outside of the cap.
“All those inflation bonus things, although we vetoed them, I think those are marginally adding to the cap, not massively,” he told the media in Bahrain last week.
“But when you look at corporate structures, that is massive…
“If you only have 68, 70 people in the racing team and the rest of the 900 are outside of it and apportioning costs, that’s the kind of stuff we have to worry about.”
Staff moved off team pay roll
In some ways, this loophole is an open secret between the teams. Indeed, the biggest teams which now include Aston Martin, have other racing programmes or technology departments outside motorsport to which they shift staff in order to comply with the cap.
An example is Red Bull which has companies outside the budget cap that some senior staff are paid from, such as team boss Christian Horner taking a big wage from the new Red Bull Powertrains. What Otmar is suggesting goes far beyond that, with huge portions of the factory workforce being employed off the main payroll of the team, therefore outside the budget cap.
Aston Martin whistleblower
It is very well known that Aston Martin has invested hugely into their F1 programme. The former Force India / Racing Point operation has transformed significantly in the last couple of years.
Indeed this website has a very reliable source from with the team who has been a whistleblower on numerous occasions, the last such being the disaster the team faced this time last year with an poorly designed car that barely made winter testing.
The source describes a system put in place to negate the budget cap by having AMR employees paid by different companies outside the racing team.
“168 members of AMRF1 staff were moved over to a company called Formtech,” says the insider,
…they are all still in the same jobs wearing AMR uniform with all the job perks and bonuses but not on AMR F1 budget. They also all received a £5000 “bonus” which was paid at the end of October 2021, another £5000 will be paid at the end of October 2022 to anyone who has stayed on for the 12 months.”
As to how true the details are in this communication, nobody will ever know. But it would be unlikely to be a huge surprise to many within the paddock, and even the fan base, that this kind of loophole was being employed.
“Fast forward to 2022 more staff were moved again but this time to “Aston Martin GP Services Limited” again same job roles etc etc but without the £5000 “bonus”…” claims the disgruntled employee of Aston Martin,
“In total this is around 200 people doing the exact same jobs, wearing the AMR F1 green uniform, the only difference is the bank account they’re paid from…”
If this is endemic within the Formula 1 establishment, it is difficult to see how the FIA and FOM would successfully police it, and puts a big question mark over the effectiveness of the budget cap going forward and might explain how Fernando Alonso was so fast in Bahrain for the season opener.