Red Bull have been found guilty of a “minor overspend breach” of F1’s cost-cap regulations for 2021 with their punishment yet to be determined - though a fine is the most likely outcome.
The team spent more than the £114m cost cap but with the breach not over the 5% “major breach” threshold of £5.7m, the penalty is not likely to result in Max Verstappen losing last year’s World Championship due to a loss of 2021 points.
Red Bull said in a statement that they are “surprised and disappointed” with the findings, insisting that there “2021 submission was below the cost cap limit.”
The FIA also confirmed that Aston Martin “is considered to be in procedural breach of the financial regulations,” with Red Bull also in “procedural breach.” Williams had previously been found in “procedural breach”, which has since been remediated - the team paid a $25,000 fine.
An FIA statement read: “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.
“Procedural Breaches can result in Financial Penalties and/or Minor Sporting Penalties (in case of aggravating factors) as detailed in the Financial Regulation. Minor Overspend breach (<5% Cost Cap) can result in Financial Penalties and/or Minor Sporting Penalties.”
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was denied a record eighth F1 crown when he was beaten by Verstappen at a deeply contentious winner-takes-all finale in Abu Dhabi on 12 December. Verstappen took the title by eight points.
Red Bull added in their statement: “We need to carefully review the FIA’s findings as our 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.”
Christian Horner said this morning he was “very confident” in Red Bull’s submission, as the team celebrated Verstappen’s second world title following a bizarre end to a dramatic Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday.
“We’ve been shocked at the speculation and accusations that have been made by other teams.,” Horner told BBC Radio 4. “We wait for the FIA to conclude their process and we wait to see what comes out. Anything other than compliance we’ll be extremely surprised at.”
Sanctions available to the FIA for a breach ranged from a reprimand, to financial penalties, to the deduction of drivers’ points, and even exclusion from the championship.
The FIA statement continued: “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.
“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.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff urged the FIA to take robust action against any team that has overspent.
“It is of huge importance for a demonstration that these regulations are policed and I have no reason to believe otherwise,” Wolff told the BBC last week in Singapore.
“The FIA, particularly Mohammed, has shown a pretty robust stance on enforcing all kinds of regulations.
“So if we are talking now about something big, he will show the same integrity and leadership that he has done before.”
Horner responded by accusing Wolff of “hugely defamatory, fictitious claims” and threatened legal proceedings.
Asked if a lawsuit remained on the table, Horner said in Singapore: “Of course. What I said yesterday absolutely still stands. We will consider all of our options.
“It was totally unacceptable to make a completely unfounded allegation, and on the basis of what knowledge? Where is this source of information?
“It was a confidential submission between the team and the FIA. I have no idea of the compliance of any of our rivals. So what does that information supposedly come from? We have not been informed that we are in breach so let’s get to the end and see where we are.”
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