Why Red Bull’s F1 rivals see its ‘small’ breakthrough as nothing else

But what is quite clear is that while Red Bull’s over-rating has been officially classified as a “minor” breach, his opposition sees it as anything but a small matter.

To classify it as a “minor” offense rather than a “material” one, teams must have overspent by less than 5% of the allowance. So, with last year’s cost cap at about $145 million, that could be as high as $7.25 million.

There was no confirmation from the FIA ​​or Red Bull about the scale of the breakout, but there were plenty of suggestions that it was somewhere between $1 million and $2 million.

This may seem like a very small amount of money in the grand scheme of things, but when it comes to development budgets, extra spending like this ultimately makes a big difference.

Lewis Hamilton He indicated only $500,000 in additional development funds being unlocked for mercedes Last year enough to allow him to bring in a new ground layout, which would have upped his car’s pace to alter the outcome of the title chase.

As his team boss Toto Wolff said at the Singapore Grand Prix: “If it’s a so-called minor breach, I think the word is probably incorrect.

“If you’re spending another 5 million, and you’re still in the minor breach, that still has a huge impact on the tournament.

“To give you an idea, we obviously keep a close eye on the parts that are brought to the track from the top teams at every race – the 2021 season and the 2022 season.

“We can see that there are two big teams that are almost the same and there is another team that is spending more. So we know exactly that we spend three and a half million a year on the parts we bring into the car. And then you can see the difference that spending another 500,000 makes – that would be a difference.

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“We didn’t produce lightweight parts for the car in order to take us off the double-digit weight gain because we simply didn’t get the money. So we need to do that for next year’s car.

“We can’t homogenize a lightweight chassis and bring it in, because only $2 million is going to cross the line. So you can see that every more spend has a performance advantage.”

This is the trade-off between spending and performance that top teams have had to reconcile in the era of cost cap, which is why overspending by the competitor is such a big deal to them.

Ferrari In particular he called several times for the maximum penalties given. The team believes this is the only way to ensure that teams strictly follow the cost cap in the future and are not encouraged to manipulate the system by trading off overspending to secure richer rewards than any abolished penalty would cost.

Ferrari has not said anything publicly since the FIA’s statement on Red Bull’s breach, but it is understood that the team’s position has not changed, and that it wants to deal with financial violations as strictly as technical violations where cars are disqualified if parts of them are a few millimeters apart.

For Red Bull’s main rivals, perhaps more important than any potential penalty is that there is complete transparency in how the case is handled.

So far, the FIA ​​has offered little insight into the scale and motivations of Red Bull’s breakthrough, and the lack of information on such a big topic has inevitably led to wild speculation.

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Was Red Bull’s procedural and little spending the result of small paperwork delays and innocent spending – such as subsidized canteen in Milton Keynes, sick pay and gardening leave payments – unexpectedly added to the team budget by FIA explanations and pushed it too far?

Or was there some deliberate attempt to circumvent paperwork, prevent investigations, and deliberately find ways to get around the cost ceiling to ensure Red Bull could spend more on developing cars than its competitors?

‘Surprise and disappointment’ for Red Bull being accused of breaching the cost cap would suggest it was the number one case. However, without firm answers, the doubts of the opponents will inevitably fear the second.

This is why it is essential, for Red Bull and the rest of the network, for the FIA ​​to explain things in detail, and not go the way of secret deals.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18, second, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, third, at Parc Ferme

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18, second, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, third, at Parc Ferme

Photography: Stephen T. motorsports pictures

F1’s financial regulations are in fact clear in how the FIA ​​is required to publish details of decisions made in relation to rule violations.

If teams choose to seek an acceptable breach agreement, where they own the responsibility and take responsibility for breaking the rules, the order will be released.

Section 6.32 of the F1 Financial Regulations reads: “The cost cap management will publish a summary of the terms of the ABA, detailing the breach, any penalties, and any enhanced control procedures, omitting any confidential information.”

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Even if the team chooses to take the matter and go before the judges so it can plead its case, the final ruling will be made public.

Article 7.27 of the Rules states: “The jury will publish at the maximum cost the jury’s decision and the grounds on which it is based, excluding any confidential information.”

But while these offer some hope of getting answers to Red Bull’s rivals about the scale and scope of what happened, and the FIA’s response, they still open the door for the board of directors to try to downplay matters.

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For now, Red Bull’s competitors are waiting for a quick look and are waiting for the next steps.

As Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said at the weekend: “I think what we need and what I expect is complete transparency and clarity about the discussions that may have taken place.”

And if that’s not forthcoming, the FIA ​​risks even more controversy going forward.

Make any penalty too weak, or leave other teams unclear about the details of the cost cap breach by keeping things very secret, and trust in the entire system will collapse very quickly.

That would threaten a cost cap that is seen as a key component of F1’s long-term health.

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