F1 cost cap saga: What was Red Bull’s punishment and how will it affect them?

F1 cost cap saga: What was Red Bull’s punishment and how will it affect them?

Red Bull have been fined over £6million for breaking Formula One’s financial rules.

The FIA delivered Red Bull’s punishment at the Mexican Grand Prix following a row which has engulfed the sport.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the key questions surrounding the FIA’s verdict.

-What is the budget cap?

The budget cap was introduced by the sport’s rulers last year in the hope of bringing the grid closer together.

Teams such as Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull had previously spent in excess of £300m-a-season. But the rules now dictate that no team can spend more than an agreed figure. Last year it was set at 145m US dollars (£114m) with plans to reduce it year-on-year.

Drivers’ salaries, the wages of a team’s three highest-paid members of staff and some travel costs fall outside of the cap.

-What did Red Bull do?

World champion Max Verstappen
Red Bull overspent by £1.8m when they carried Max Verstappen to last season’s championship (David Davies/PA)

Red Bull, the team which carried Max Verstappen to championship victory over Lewis Hamilton last year, overspent by £1.8m. Although both Aston Martin and Williams were fined for a procedural breach, Red Bull were the only team to exceed the cap.

Hamilton was denied a record eighth crown when Verstappen beat him at last season’s finale in Abu Dhabi after former race director Michael Masi fudged the safety car rules. Verstappen’s championship has been clouded in controversy ever since and his team’s financial breach again put the legitimacy of the title triumph in the spotlight.

-What punishment did they get?

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner addressed the media in Mexico on Friday (Fernando Llano/AP)

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said he was informed that Red Bull were in breach of the financial rules 90 minutes after Verstappen claimed his second world championship in Japan on October 9.

Nineteen days later, in Mexico City, Red Bull were handed a £6m fine and a 10 per cent reduction in aerodynamic testing time over a 12-month period. Red Bull’s so-called Accepted Breach Agreement (ABA) with the FIA means they cannot appeal the decision.

-What did the FIA conclude?

The governing body said that Red Bull “did not act in bad faith, dishonestly or in a fraudulent manner”. In its three-page report, the FIA mentioned 13 items that Red Bull “incorrectly excluded and/or adjusted costs” in its financial submission. These included catering, employer’s social security contributions, staff bonuses, apprenticeship levies and travel costs.

The FIA also added that without a notional tax credit, incorrectly included on their submitted account, Red Bull’s overspend would actually have been £432,652, the equivalent of a breach surmounting to 0.37 per cent.

-How did Red Bull react to the verdict?

Team principal Horner described the fine as “enormous” and called the deduction of wind tunnel time as “draconian”. He said the punishment could cost his team up to half-a-second in lap time.

He also said the ruling did not taint Verstappen’s championship triumph – insisting his star driver beat Hamilton to the title “fair and square” and refused to apologise, instead calling on Red Bull’s rivals to apologise to them. However, Horner said Red Bull were willing to accept the penalties, albeit “begrudgingly”.

-What’s next?

Max Verstappen has won back-to-back titles
Max Verstappen has won back-to-back titles (Darron Cummings/AP)

Red Bull must settle its £6m fine within 30 days. It is understood the 10 per cent reduction in aerodynamic testing time is the equivalent of 28 fewer runs in the wind tunnel. This will have an impact on the development of Red Bull’s car – not only for next season and the following year – but potentially 2025, too.

The punishments will be welcomed by Red Bull’s rivals who have been unable to match their pace during a season which they have dominated. Verstappen has won 13 of the 19 races and secured the title with four rounds to spare. Red Bull have also claimed this season’s constructors’ crown – their first since 2013.