The summer break is upon us which will give the Formula One drivers time to recover from the week in and out crushing victories Max Verstappen has been inflicting upon them. It is the usual time of year when driver team moves become the hot topic of F1 gossip, although there are two other explosive matters on the near horizon.
The first will be when the FIA announce the results of their audit of the F1 teams spending from 2022 and whether any, as did Red Bull last season, have breached the budget limit and are set to suffer penalties.
Red Bull confident of cost cap compliance
Red Bull are confident this year’s numbers will be under the required amount as Christian Horner recently revealed, the “one off” costs they suffered in last years numbers have not been carried over into the latest financial year’s accounting.
“Whether it was a redundancy cost, leaver costs, sick pay, they are one-off costs.
The Red Bull boss took a swipe at the FIA’s insistence all Red Bull’s spending on their canteen be included in last year’s F1 budget despite a number of employees working on other projects
“We will continue to feed our people, and their costs will be apportioned within the cap.”
Other F1 teams crashed more often
Horner insists that rival teams last season spent way more than Red Bull on in season car development and replacing parts their drivers had damaged.
“If you look at crash damage alone, which again, is hugely expensive, and something I think that needs personally looking at within the cap – when you look at the quantum of some of the crashes [in 2022], some of which are not the fault of your driver or your team, Max Verstappen is the driver that has incurred the least amount of damage,” he concluded.
The FIA have tightened the regulations for this season’s audit and now include any spend on intellectual property a team makes on non-related projects, but uses within their F1 project too.
Red Bull have hypercar project ongoing and Mercedes are designing the aerodynamics for an America’s Cup Yacht entry.
Cost cap rule change may create a “shock”
So the rules have changed and despite Horner’s assertion they have spent less than in the year they were found in breach, it is uncertain whether the larger teams will be slapped with penalties for gaining “free” knowledge which in the previous year was allowable.
The second enormous matter to be resolved is whether the FIA will accept any of the applications from several new teams wishing to join the sport.
There has already been an Almighty row between the teams and the regulators body who believe the $200m entry and anti dilution fee they will all share has been set too low.
Of course the teams agreed this figure which is enshrined in the 2021 Concorde Agreement until it is superseded by the next revision due to come into effect for the 2026 season.
Teams demand bigger F1 entrance fee
Given the recent precedent set in the NHL they now believe $600m plus is more appropriate.
There are two applications to join F1 which are believed to have been considered seriously by the FIA. Andretti Motorsport which competes in several North American and global racing series is believed to be the best positioned to meet the strict criteria set by the FIA.
The have a deal with General Motors believed to be in excess of $200m to develop a Cadillac branded power unit for when the new ‘engine’ regulations begin in 2026.
However, Andretti wish to join for 2025 and have claimed they will be ready to compete at the start of that season. This of course would mean they pay the lower entrance fee of $200m rather than the revised amount which will surely apply for the following season.
FIA seriously consider 2 new F1 applications
The second serious contender for a spot on the F1 grid is from Hitech GP. They have been successfully racing in a number of junior Formula since forming in 2003 and entering British F3.
Yet it has emerged the team may being secretly financed by Russian oligarch Dmitry Mazepin who sponsored the Haas F1 team until Russia invaded Ukraine in 2021.
Uralkali owned by Mazepin are reported by AMuS to be funding Hitachi’s application via Vladimir Kim who recently acquired 23% of the junior Formula outfit.
Mazpin’s company is banned from F1 under current European sanctions designed to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Mazepin Snr & Jar banned from F1
His son Nikita Mazepin, who was racing for Haas F1 until Uralkali was kicked out of the sport, failed to win a recent High Court case against the UK government to have the sanctions placed upon him removed.
Mazepin and his father Dmitry were sanctioned by the UK, Canada and the European Union in March 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
However, this week Europes General Court overturned the decision to restrict Nikita from pursuing his career in Europe.
Nikita Mazepin wins court case
“I am very happy with this decision which gives me hope to resume my professional career in international motor racing,” he told AFP.
“I will do my best to make up for lost time and look forward to rejoin the sport that I love, to which I have dedicated my life,” said the young Russian after the verdict was announced.
Yet Mazepin was heavily criticised during his year alongside Mick Schumacher at Haas for not being up to the standard required for a an F1 driver. He had been previously criticised during his F2 career for being ‘reckless’ repeatedly and was awarded his Formula One seat because Uralkali was funding the Haas F1 team.
Mazepin’s legal victory is not finalised due to the appeals process within Europe and then the UK he will have to face. It could be years before he overturns the bans at the highest level and even then no current F1 team would likely engage his services.
Russian secret funding of Hitech?
Haas F1 now have a new Global Sponsor in MoneyGram and no longer will be forced over the barrel to give a seat to a driver they do not believe is capable.
The secret financing of Hitech would suggest the Uralkali oligarch is attempting to buy an entry into Formula One where he can then place his son as one of the drivers.
This is Nikita’s only chance due to his abysmal season at Haas when he was often a minute down on his fellow rookie team mate.
Nikita not welcome in F1
Mazepin Jnr created controversy even prior to sitting in an F1 car when a video emerged in which he appeared to grope a women in a car.
In F1 he repeatedly frustrated the other drivers by failing to adhere to blue flags and was sanctioned for not doing so by the FIA.
At the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in 2021 Mazepin defended furiously against team mate Mick Schumacher who later claimed the Russian was trying to kill him.
Yuki worked SO hard for that final point! 🥵
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 31, 2023