Have Red Bull and Aston Martin Breached the F1 Budget Cap?

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With an official ruling scheduled for October 5th, did Red Bull and Aston Martin field transgress on their roads to greatness?

According to a report from Laurence Edmundson of ESPN F1 UK, Oracle Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant have exceeded the budget cap put in place by the FIA in 2021. The budget cap, designed to sustain Formula One and make the competition more leveled, was set at $145 million for 2021 and reduced to $140 Million for 2022. While minor adjustments were granted in the name of inflation, there has not been a set penalty as to what would happen if the cap were breached.

The FIA statement on Friday:

“The FIA is currently finalizing the assessment of the 2021 financial data submitted by all Formula One teams. Alleged breaches of the financial regulations, if any, will be dealt with according to the formal process set out in the regulations.”

While Aston Martin confirmed submission of their 2021 reports to the FIA, they also claimed they were awaiting official certification.

Speaking with Sky Sports after Friday’s Practice Session in Singapore, Oracle Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner had the following comments:

“(Oracle Red Bull Racing is) certainly not aware of any [breach]…The accounts were submitted back in March, so it’s been a long process with the FIA. We’re in that process as we speak…(The FIA is) rightly following that process and I think next week is when they declare their certificates. Our submission was below the cap, and it’s down to the FIA to follow their process, which they’re currently doing.”

In a response to Horner’s comments, Mercedes AMG-Petronas Team Principal Toto Wolff coined the issue as ‘Massively Heavyweight:

“It was a huge mammoth project to make the cap. I don’t know how many tens of millions we had to restructure and reprocess to be below the cap. If someone has not been doing that, or pushing the boundaries, every million is a massive disadvantage…It’s funny that Christian says that, because it’s weeks and months that they are being investigated. Maybe he doesn’t speak to his CFO…All of us have been investigated diligently and as far as we understand, there’s a team in [a] minor breach which is more procedural and another team that is fundamentally massively over. That is being look after, that’s an open secret in the paddock…If it’s true they’ve homologated a lightweight chassis this year, they may use it next year. It’s a real cascade of events that can be influential in all the championships…Even if it is the so-called minor breach, under 5%, you can spend 7 million more than everyone else, and this means if this is a light penalty we will all be pushing those 5% going forward…You need to imagine, we have a pool of $140 million. If you’re spending 5 or 10% more than everyone else, that’s many, many tenths of a second. We couldn’t reduce our overweight which is double-digits this year, because we simply didn’t have the money to produce and put on the new parts. You’re fighting a totally different league if you’ve been pushing the limit upwards.”

This story comes amidst Oracle Red Bull Racing’s rate of development over the past two seasons. As the franchise is within grasp of their second consecutive World Driver’s Championship with Max Verstappen and their first World Constructor’s Championship since 2013, it brings to light questions about their quest back to the top.

The road to success is long and winded. Sometimes, one goes through setbacks in a respective path toward greatness. There is no question that Red Bull Racing, throughout numerous incarnations since its formation in 2005, will go down as one of the greatest motorsport franchises of a generation. Yet in the quest to regain former glory overshadowed by Mercedes AMG-Petronas, how far is one willing to go?

If there is a breach, and depending on how egregious it is, a team could be dealt minor or major financial penalties. Or if they have pushed the boundaries far enough penalties in the Championship.

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