Red Bull under investigation for breaching budget cap in 2021

Red Bull under investigation for breaching budget cap in 2021

Red Bull under investigation for rape (...)

In the morning in Singapore, in the evening in France, news began to circulate in the Marina Bay paddock that could have the effect of thunder: Red Bull would be the subject of an investigation for violating the budget ceiling. .

A bomb was dropped that gave the first details of what happened. The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) has reportedly uncovered spending violations for the 2021 season that ended with Max Verstappen’s world title victory in the controversial Abu Dhabi final.

It should be noted that there is currently no official press release to support the dispute, but the atmosphere in the paddock at Marina Bay Street Circuit is effervescent. So far the FIA ​​has only found one infringement, against the Williams team for procedural reasons. Indeed, the team led by Jost Capito had sent the reports requested by the International Federation a few days late. Two other teams breached the spending limit, Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin F1. For the 2021 season, the financial regulations set the spending cap at $145 million.

The FIA ​​would like to keep the investigation into the financial figures submitted by the teams at the end of March for the previous world championship confidential, but the Cost Cap Administration is said to have already finalized its findings into the teams’ annual accounts and is intervening. directly in the process, informed of the violations found.

No defined penalty for a “minor infraction”

This file should now see its process expedited because the FIA ​​is required to make all transgressions public. Exceeding the budget limit is a violation of the rules, such as a car that is too light or too much gas flow. However, the result should have been announced long ago, but one of the two cases, that of Red Bull, could cause an earthquake in the paddock.

If the rumors turn out to be true and Red Bull Racing came out on top late last year, the already contentious title fight after the bizarre finish in Abu Dhabi will have an added toxic twist.

It seems that Red Bull would have spent between four and five million more. The question then is to know what the possible sanctions are. The Financial Regulation states that the infringement should be classified as ‘minor’ if the figure does not exceed 5% of the budget, as appears to be the case. It foresees economic or sports sanctions for offenders, ranging from fines to the withdrawal of points. The application of a retroactive sanction does not seem likely, since the entire sport will be discredited if a title from last season changes sides now.

Deducting points in the current season would do little harm to Red Bull Racing, with the huge lead now enjoyed by Verstappen. The Dutchman can now be proclaimed champion in Singapore with six races to go. A more impactful sanction could be a hefty financial penalty for 2023, which could hamper the development of next season’s car.

Therefore, there is no clearly defined catalog of sanctions. At Mercedes and Ferrari, they say an extra five million dollars in development can be worth up to half a second on the track.

Mercedes F1 and Ferrari want clarification

The FIA ​​and Red Bull Racing have yet to officially respond to the claims circulating in Singapore, but it will certainly draw the attention of direct competitors Ferrari and Mercedes.

In fact, Mercedes and Ferrari are already on the record. According to his calculations, Red Bull not only exceeded the limit in 2021, but also this season. That is why the lightweight chassis produced by Red Bull will probably not be used in 2022. Material and production costs are only included in the budget when they are used for the first time. Only design costs are immediately included in the quote.

Max Verstappen also confirmed the information in Singapore: “We made a bet: if I won Monza I would keep the old chassis. I thought I would finish second, but I won the race anyway.”

If it turns out that Red Bull has spent too much money, then constructors’ world champion Mercedes, who believe they were robbed of the title in the Abu Dhabi final due to the premature deployment of the safety car, could go further and plead guilty. unfair technical advantage.

Ferrari is angry at speculation that Red Bull might have broken the rules for another reason. Assuming that, the extra money has not only been invested in the 2021 car, but also in the development of the 2022 model. Which would explain why Red Bull had such a good start to the season despite being the last team to focus on it. . So anyone who skirts the budget benefits twice: in the current fiscal year and later.

A calculated overshoot to avoid penalties?

The Red Bull competition also claims to have calculated that upgrades to the current Red Bull RB18 could not be produced within the allowed budget. By their own calculations, Red Bull must be way above it.

Also, teams keep records with each other. Each extrapolates what the other spends. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner had already thwarted such suspicions at the start of the summer: “How can another team know what price we produce and what materials we use?”

Initially, FIA investigators apparently found nothing suspicious. But the teams have learned how Red Bull calculates its costs and under what conditions it produces its parts. Therefore, Red Bull is once again in the sights of listeners.

According to some FIA ​​sources, the results will be communicated next week. Apparently both teams are only penalized with ‘minor fouls’. But obviously there is room for interpretation of the real costs and the competition fears that the case has been calculated to avoid a scandal…

Update at 13:22: The FIA ​​has announced that the report on the financial accounts of the teams in 2021 will be published this Wednesday, October 5. The information should be read here with the details.

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