‘Budget cap alert’ as FIA launch investigation into F1 teams’ activities

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen leads the start of the Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal June 2023.

Max Verstappen holds the lead ahead of Fernando Alonso heading into Turn 1. Montreal June 2023.

The FIA has reportedly issued a new technical directive, TD45, to control the influence of outside sporting interests for teams, and four have caught the eye of the governing body.

Those four teams, as per La Gazzetta dello Sport, are Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston Martin, the FIA wanting further clarification on their satellite operations after the latest round of cost cap documentation was submitted across the F1 grid.

TD45 is said to have been issued in order to better police the category of ‘Non F.1 Activities’, covering the design of boats, bicycles or road cars, with a potential loophole having appeared whereby teams can transfer personnel to such projects, where they would no longer be counted under the F1 budget cap, yet those outside learnings could potentially be of use in the world of Formula 1 design.

This will be music to the ears of Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer, who has already on several occasions this season brought up his concerns over such projects.

Mercedes and Red Bull for example are both involved in the America’s Cup, James Allison recently returning to the Mercedes technical director role after overseeing the INEOS Britannia outfit. Red Bull are also highly active in the world of bicycle design.

Ferrari meanwhile reigned supreme at the latest 24 Hours of Le Mans as their racing and GT divisions worked in perfect harmony, these all examples of projects falling outside the F1 budget cap which the FIA reportedly now are taking a deeper look at and chasing further clarification from that trio.

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It is said to be a four-way assessment with Aston Martin added to the mix, the Silverstone squad well aware of how the budget cap can bite after committing a procedural breach in 2022.

Red Bull though felt the wrath of the cost cap to an even greater extent last season, having been hit with a $7 million fine and 10 per cent reduction in wind tunnel time for a minor overspend in their 2021 figures.

This latest batch of scrutineering also has the potential to be highly significant, with Red Bull, Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari, in that order, taking care of the top four positions in the current Constructors’ Championship.

Motorsport.com add that the new technical directive has made it clear that any intellectual property which is generated by one of these satellite organisations, but used in Formula 1, must be accounted for under the cost cap.

What will come of the FIA’s reported suspicions that these teams could be using their non-F1 projects for important F1 research? The wait is on to find out.