Lying a distant fourth in the 2023 Formula One constructors’ championship, Ferrari and all their fans are utterly disappointed with their current performance this year. Having pushed Red Bull so close with Leclerc even having a 44 point lead during the early part of 2022, the Scuderia under new boss Fred Vasseur have taken several steps backward.
Mattia Binotto was forced out of the team at the end of the season but without a clear succession plan Ferrari have since floundered. Their decision to recruit the Sauber boss Fred Vasseur was questionable at the time and now looks positively the wrong way to go.
At times the best form of defence is to attack and it appears Vasseur snow deploying this tactic given Ferrari’s form is still failing them with over half the 2023 season gone. Big is the moment the FIA will announce their latest ‘compliance certificates’ for teams which have successfully made the cost cap in the 2022 financial submissions.
New FIA spending rules will hurt
Since the teams began spending their 2022 limited budget, the FIA issued a technical directive TD45 which retrospectively specifies all “intellectual property” from non-F1 related activities within the group of companies associated with an F team must be declared at full cost.
This means if a team of engineers in Mercedes auto manufacturing plants in Germany spend $1m in research and development on a project for their road car business. Then when handed over a Mercedes AMG F1, their engineer takes this and with subtle changes brings a new component to the F1 car, the full $1m cost must also be included in the team’s spending allowance for the year.
Clearly this is a minefield and how the FIA propose to police it is unknown at present. However, there will be more questions this year than last over what constitutes actual allowable spending and what sits outside the budget cap limit.
Christian Horner has already suggested Mercedes and Ferrari brought way more upgrades last year than did red Bull Racing and that Max Verstappen had the least crash damage of any driver during the season. This all helps with staying withinnthe budget cap.
Red Bull overspend exaggerated
Red Bull were fined the second highest amount ever by the FIA of $7m and their aerodynamic testing time was reduced by 10%.
Yet F1 a number of team principals persist in claiming the punishment received by the world champions was inappropriate. Further, the Ferrari team boss continues to claim the Red Bull overspend was hugely greater than it was found to be.
Fred Vasseur in his latest rant implies the overspend was at the 5% limit and then continues to explain how this is in fact a huge amount of free money to play with.
Vasseur explains F1 costs
“A 5 per cent violation is not small, it is big,” said Vasseur. “If you have a budget of $135 million, $80 million of that already goes to personnel, another $20 million to race costs, materials, brakes and so on.
“Making four chassis at the beginning of the season also costs about $20 million. Then you already arrive at about $120-125 million. This is about the same for everyone.
“That leaves about $10 million to develop.”
FIA judge overspend 0.37%
Of course a 5% overspend would mean Red Bull had created a huge advantage as that would increase the $10m for development to around $17m. Hence Vasseur’s observations would be ‘fair comment.’
But either the Ferrari boss failed to comprehend the FIA’s final judgement or he is simply making excuses to his superiors as to why Ferrari are so far behind the curve.
The actual FIA judgement concluded:
“The FIA acknowledges that had RBR applied the correct treatment within its Full Year Reporting Documentation of RBR’s Notional Tax Credit within its 2021 submission of a value of £1,431,348, it would have been considered by the Cost Cap Administration to be in compliance with Article 4.1(b) of the Regulations and therefore RBR’s Relevant Costs for the 2021 Reporting Period would have in fact exceeded the 2021 Cost Cap by £432,652 (0.37%).”
Vasseur claims excessive RBR advantage
Clearly a breach of merely 0.37% is not the outrageous and heinous crime Vasseur suggests and certainly would not give Red B all the advantage he now claims.
The Ferrari boss concludes that the FIA’s acceptance that a tax rebate was treated incorrectly and reduced the original alleged overspend from 1.6% to 0.37% was improper.
“There is a big difference between an innocent mistake or a choice. A bit like someone making a mistake on their tax return, versus a company arranging something to avoid taxes in a tax haven.
“We have to be tough: this is about the future of the budget cap.
“Otherwise, everyone is going to do the same thing. Then you free up budget to pay the penalty and say amen. The big constructors can afford all this.”
FIA judgement final
Clearly this is all water under the bridge as there is no agreed mechanism for the FIA to change Red Bull’s penalty following their agreement to the sanctions.
Despite this Vasseur is insistent that the FIA’s actions were in appropriate as he speaks to Gazzetta Dello Sport.
“A penalty like last year really isn’t severe,” he said. “If it should be necessary again, such a penalty should be much heavier.
“You have to keep in mind that a technical advantage will translate into a sporting advantage. Therefore, the penalty should be sporting and not a fine. “In soccer, if you use a hand, it’s a penalty… they don’t give you a [non-sporting] penalty.
“The deduction of 10 per cent wind tunnel time is a big joke. They have already done most of the work by then.”
Fred Vasseur under pressure from above
The FIA are set to announce their findings for the audit of the teams 2022 financial submissions and this rant from Vasseur about 2021 is all “after the Lord Mayor’s show.”
Its clear the Ferrari boss feels it necessary to explain why Red Bull are so far ahead of his own team again and he is clearly feeling the pressure from his superiors who are less than impressed with the team’s performance this season.
Raw emotion and tears, 'Estie Bestie' on the podium, and some trophy-winning dance moves 🕺😆
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 16, 2023