Ferrari: Penalty won’t make up for the tenths Red Bull have already gained

Michelle Foster
Red Bull's Max Verstappen races Ferrari's Charles Leclerc at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Jeddah, April 2022.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen races Ferrari's Charles Leclerc at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Jeddah, April 2022.

Ferrari are “not happy” with Red Bull’s budget cap penalty, Laurent Mekies saying losing 10 per cent of their R&D time won’t make up for the “couple of tenths” Red Bull have already gained.

After weeks of deliberation, and speculation from the other rival teams, the FIA announced on Friday that Red Bull had a $7 million fine for breaching last year’s cost cap, as well as a 10 per cent reduction in car development time.

The latter means the Milton Keynes squad, already limited in their wind tunnel time after winning this year’s Constructors’ Championship, will only have 63 per cent of the overall wind tunnel and CFD time.

In simple numbers that means Red Bull can only do 202 runs in the wind tunnel compared to Ferrari’s 240 and Mercedes’ 256.

Mekies says that’s not enough to negate the advantage the championship winners have already gained.

“We have talked a lot in recent weeks about what one can do with half a million more, or a million or two or three,” quotes him as having told Sky Italia. “Two million is a significant amount and we have given our opinion several times on this topic.

“We at Ferrari think that this amount is worth around a couple of tenths [per lap] and so it’s easy to understand that these figures can have a real impact on the outcome of the races, and maybe even a championship.

“As for the penalty, we are not happy with it, for two important reasons.

“The first is that we at Ferrari do not understand how the 10 per cent reduction of the ATR [Aerodynamic Testing Restrictions] can correspond to the same amount of lap time mentioned earlier.

“Furthermore, there is another problem in that since there is no cost cap reduction in the penalty, the basic effect is to push the competitor to spend the money elsewhere.

“It has total freedom to use the money it can no longer spend on use of the wind tunnel and CFD due to the 10 per cent reduction, on reducing the weight of the car, or who knows what else.

“Our concern is that the combination of these two factors means the real effect of the penalty is very limited.”

Red Bull’s $7m fine doesn’t come out of their budget cap.

The Ferrari race director say it is done, the FIA have made their decision and Red Bull have signed the Accepted Breach Agreement.

It’s now time for Formula 1 to move on.

“We have no choice but to move on and I believe it is very important for us and also for the whole of F1 and the fans, that for 2022, we do not have to wait until next October to see the outcome of the accounts,” he said.

“We will support the FIA to do what is needed to reach a conclusion as quickly as possible.”

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has defended his team’s spending even in the face of the penalty, adamant the extra money was not spent on the car but on gardening leave and catering. He even wants an apology from rivals who accused Red Bull of cheating.

Read more: Helmut Marko: Red Bull now ‘cannot afford mistakes’ with R&D penalty