Bernie Ecclestone predicts ‘it will get worse’ for Red Bull over cost cap breach

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, at Suzuka. Japan, October 2022.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen at the Japanese Grand Prix. Suzuka, October 2022.

The FIA will determine Red Bull’s punishment for a minor 2021 cost cap breach, and ex-F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone expects trouble.

Red Bull and Mercedes delivered one of the most gripping seasons of Formula 1 action yet in 2021, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battling all the way to the last lap of the season in pursuit of the Drivers’ Championship.

There were plenty of on-track fireworks along the way, the same true off the track as Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner engaged in verbal conflict for much of the campaign.

Ultimately Mercedes retained the Constructors’ title, their eighth crown in succession, but Verstappen ended Hamilton’s dominant streak with an overtake on the final lap of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, clinching the title.

It has since emerged though that Red Bull overspent in 2021, the first season where the budget cap was active, designed to limit teams to a spend of $145m.

Red Bull are guilty of a minor overspend breach, meaning up to five percent of that value.

The FIA has not yet revealed what action Red Bull will face, with past comments from Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn having resurfaced where he warned that if a team fraudulently broke the cost cap, then they would lose their title.

There has been no indication from the FIA that Red Bull purposely overspent, the team having indeed expressed surprise and disappointment to be ruled not in compliance, but Ecclestone believes Red Bull could be in for an even more disappointing outcome.

“Will Red Bull lose the World Championship points in 2021? It will get worse!” Ecclestone warned as he spoke to Blick.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen leads Ferrari's Charles Leclerc at the Japanese Grand Prix. Suzuka, October 2022. points
Red Bull's Max Verstappen leads Ferrari's Charles Leclerc at the Japanese Grand Prix. Suzuka, October 2022.

The FIA do have the power to dock points from the 2021 standings, which of course could have a direct impact on last season’s title outcome.

How far Red Bull went over the cap is still not clear, as five percent can cover anything up to $7.25m.

Ex-Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle has called this range “crazy”, urging the FIA to tighten it up.

“What seems crazy to me is that a minor breach can be up to five percent overspend on the cost cap at seven million,” he said on Sky Sports F1’s ‘Any Driven Monday’. “We know that’s a massive upgrade on a car, maybe even a B-spec for some teams.

“So that needs tightening up for starters, because what’s the point in having 140 million, whatever the number ends up being, and then having this five percent variance?”

Read more – Toto Wolff: Driver punishments over budget ‘a tough call’, even if car is ‘on steroids’