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Mekies and Binotto at the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. (Photo Credit: Ferrari Press Office).
Mekies and Binotto at the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. (Photo Credit: Ferrari Press Office).

Ferrari: F1 teams that break cost cap rules should be hit with “maximum penalties”

Ferrari’s Race Director has weighed in on rumours of two teams exceeding F1’s spending limit

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Ferrari Race Director Laurent Mekies has called for any Formula 1 team that exceeds the sport’s cost cap to be hit with “maximum penalties.” 

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner. (Photo Credit: the FIA).
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner. (Photo Credit: the FIA).

Introduced last season, F1’s cost cap mandated that teams couldn’t spend over $145 million during the 2021 campaign, with this figure initially slated to fall to $140 million for 2022. 

However, rumour has spread in the paddock ahead of this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix that two teams broke the cap, one of which was a minor breach of less than 5%, and the other said to have been a larger ‘material overspend.’

An Auto Motor und Sport report has identified the two teams involved as Aston Martin and Red Bull, with the latter’s boss Christian Horner fiercely contesting allegations that his team overspent. 

Despite this, Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has stood by the claims, revealing that Red Bull “are being investigated” for breaching the cost cap. If the rumours do prove true, rivals Ferrari are now calling for the harshest possible punishment. 

“It’s now no secret that two teams broke the 2021 budget cap regulations, one by a significant amount, the other less so,” Mekies told Sky Italia. 

“We regard this as something very serious and we expect the FIA to manage the situation in exemplary fashion. We trust the FIA 100 percent. They have taken a very strong position in recent weeks and months on other issues.

“Therefore we expect that, for such a serious matter, there will be complete transparency and maximum penalties to ensure we are all racing within the same rules, because their impact on car performance is huge.”

Why is F1’s cost cap so divisive?

Announced in October 2019, F1’s cost cap is designed to level the playing field, deliver a more competitive championship and provide teams with greater financial stability.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the inflation caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine, however, teams have found it increasingly difficult to stay within spending limits. 

Speaking to Autosport earlier this year, Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto said there was “no chance” his team would be able to comply with the cost cap, and that “many teams will breach it.”

In light of Ferrari’s complaints, as well as Horner’s, who claimed that “all the major teams” were likely to overspend, the FIA has since raised the limit for 2022 by 3.1% to account for rising costs and inflation. 

These changes didn’t impact the 2021 season though, and with Red Bull rumoured to have overspent last year, Wolff has criticised the outfit for not forcing itself to undergo the “mammoth” task of cutting to comply with the cap. 

“If you’ve been over in 2021, then you’ve been over in 2022, and that means you have an advantage in 2023. It’s a cascade of events that can be influential on all three championships,” Wolff told Sky Sports

“We are using used parts, we are not running what we want to run, we are not developing what we could be developing, we have made more than forty people redundant that are dearly missed in our organisation.

“I don’t know how many tens of millions we had to restructure, reprocess in order to be below the cap. If someone has not been doing that or pushing the boundaries, every million is a massive disadvantage.”

Perez and Hamilton at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. (Photo Credit: Red Bull, Twitter).
Perez and Hamilton at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. (Photo Credit: Red Bull, Twitter).
Red Bull’s potential penalties

If Aston Martin and Red Bull are found to be in breach of the 2021 cost cap, any potential FIA punishment will depend on the extent to which they’ve broken it. 

Minor breaches of $5 million or less can be penalised with anything from a public reprimand to a deduction of constructors’ or drivers’ championship points. 

Major breaches, on the other hand, could come with stricter penalties including a deduction of drivers’ or constructors’ championship points, suspension from events, exclusion from the championship or a future cost cap reduction. 

Although Ferrari and Mercedes are pushing for harsh penalties for rule breakers, we’re not likely to hear anything concrete from the FIA on the matter until October 5, 2022, when rule-abiding teams are handed a compliance certificate. 

Those deemed to have exceeded spending limits will then be subject to a further hearing that will be charged with handing out any punishments in line with F1 regulations.

In the meantime, the FIA has reiterated that it is “currently finalising the assessment of the 2021 financial data submitted by all Formula 1 teams.”

“Alleged breaches of the financial regulations, if any, will be dealt with according to the formal process set out in the regulations,” its statement added.

Featured Image Credit: Ferrari Press Office. 

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