FIA finds Red Bull guilty of ‘minor’ overspend under 2021 budget cap

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Formula One’s governing body, the FIA, has confirmed Red Bull breached the sport’s cost cap in 2021 but has yet to decide on the team’s punishment.

After delaying the announcement last week, the FIA confirmed Monday that Red Bull had committed a “procedural breach” and a “minor overspend” in 2021, meaning a number up to 5% of the $145 million cap last year.

The news follows weeks of speculation about whether Red Bull complied with the budget cap last year, including team principal Christian Horner’s denial that the accounts the team submitted in March were over the cap.

Red Bull responded to the FIA’s announcement with the following statement: “We note the findings by the FIA of ‘minor overspend breaches of the financial regulations’ with surprise and disappointment.

“Our 2021 submission was below the cost cap limit, so we need to carefully review the FIA’s findings as our core belief remains that the relevant costs are under the 2021 cost cap amount.

“Despite the conjecture and positioning of others, there is of course a process under the regulations with the FIA which we will respectfully follow while we consider all the options available to us.”

The regulations map out two types of breach: “minor” and “material” and they come with slightly different penalties. An overspend of less than 5% ($7.25 million for 2021) constitutes a “minor” breach, whereas an overspend of over 5% is a “material” breach.

The penalties for a minor breach are listed in the financial regulations and include a public reprimand, a deduction in points (both for constructors’ and drivers’ championship in 2021), suspension from stages of the championship excluding races, limitations on the ability to conduct aerodynamic testing in the future and a reduction in the cost cap for the following year.

However, exclusion or suspension from the championship is only reserved for a material breach, meaning Red Bull and its drivers cannot be thrown out of last year’s championship for its overspend.

The FIA’s cost cap administration can now enter into a settlement with Red Bull referred to as an accepted breach agreement (ABA). If no agreement can be reached or the administration considers it more appropriate, it can refer the case to the cost cap adjudication panel, which would be made up of independent judges who would decide on a penalty.

Aston Martin was also found to have committed a “procedural breach” of the financial regulations, which is likely to result in a financial penalty similar to the one Williams received when it submitted its accounts after the FIA’s deadline in March.

The FIA confirmed F1’s seven other teams were all in compliance with the financial regulations in 2021.

“The review of the reporting documentation submitted has been an intensive and thorough process, and all competitors gave their full support in providing the required information to assess their financial situation during this first year of the financial regulations,” an FIA statement read.

“The FIA cost cap administration notes that all competitors acted at all times in a spirit of good faith and cooperation throughout the process.

“The FIA would also note that with respect to this first year of the application of the financial regulations the intervention of the FIA cost cap administration has been limited to reviewing the submissions made by the competitors and that no full formal investigations were launched.

“The FIA cost cap administration is currently determining the appropriate course of action to be taken under the financial regulations with respect to Aston Martin and Red Bull and further information will be communicated in compliance with the regulations.”

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Laurence Edmondson

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