‘Budget cap fine money should be given to the tenth-placed team as extra funds’

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez makes a pit stop, surrounded by Red Bull Racing mechanics. Hungary July 2022

Mexican driver Sergio Perez makes a pit stop, surrounded by Red Bull Racing mechanics. Hungary July 2022

Informed of their budget cap penalty in October, Olav Mol reckons Red Bull “could have done things” last year already to negate the deduction in their wind tunnel time.

The Dutch commentator also has an interesting take on what should happen to the money that teams breaching the cap are fined.

With a budget cap penalty looming and Max Verstappen just days away from wrapping up the 2022 World title, Red Bull are said to have brought an end to their 2022 development.

Instead the team focused all their attention on their 2023 car, the one Verstappen and Sergio Perez will use to defend the championship double.

That could yet prove to be an inspired decision given the championship winners were docked an extra 10 percent of their wind tunnel time for the breach.

Already down to 70 percent given they won the Constructors’ title, Red Bull will have just 63 percent of the total time for R&D during 2023.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner labelled it, and the $7 million fine, a “draconian” penalty but Mol doesn’t believe it will hurt the team too much.

“I assume that it will be somewhat better than expected,” the Ziggo Sports commentator said in an interview with Motorsport.com. “The fact that they heard meant they could have done things in 2022 that could benefit them this year.

“Look, Red Bull naturally calls that it is a severe punishment. They have been given an excuse, if it does not work they can always say that it is due to the wind tunnel time.

“The other teams of course say that the penalty is not severe enough, that is how the Formula 1 world works. They would have preferred to see them thrown out of the championship.

“The violation was a minor, you can never give a major penalty for that. It was clear that this was how it would go.”

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‘A wind tunnel moment is about fifteen minutes’

Along with the budget cap, in 2021 Formula 1 also introduced a radical sliding scale for aerodynamic testing based on a team’s success.

The winners of the Constructors’ Championship would have less R&D time than second place who in turn would have less time than third place, and so it went down to tenth.

The rule meant Mercedes paid a price for their 2020 success although it was their 2021 teams’ trophy that hurt the most as it meant they had less time their rivals to work on their all-new 2022 car.

Now it’s Red Bull’s turn, their budget cap penalty adding to their deduction.

While they would have had less time anyway given their Constructors’ success, 224 wind tunnel runs compared to Ferrari’s 240 and 1400 CFD items compared to the Scuderia’s 1500, they now have 202 to 240 and 1260 to 1500.

But, as Mol put it, “a wind tunnel moment is about fifteen minutes, it’s not like they can’t use that wind tunnel for 24 days or 24 hours. It’s about x number of things and we’ll see that.”

Pundit questions the $7m fine

Mol admits he’s perplexed by the monetary fine handed down to Red Bull and reckons if such is a fine is part of the punishment then the money should be “added” to the team that finished bottom of the log’s budget, not given to the FIA.

“The precedent has been set, if you go over the budget cap, this is the penalty,” he said. “Going over it twice will become a double penalty.

“The only thing I find strange is the $7 million fine. Then you make it calculable, you should not hang a financial penalty on a budget cap. I do not understand that.

“You have spent the maximum amount of money and then if you spend too much money, you have to spend more money again to undo the overspending.

“I think I summed it up well.

“Anyway, the organisation of the FIA also has to live and I think the money just goes there.

“In fact, if you are talking about a fine I would suggest that the amount of the fine be added to the budget cap of the tenth team and the guilty party then has to pay it. Then you will make any competitor bigger.”