FIA step up policing of suspected loophole around non-F1 projects

Jamie Woodhouse
Start of the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, June 2023. Results

Start of the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, June 2023.

Interviewing staff declared as outside of F1 cost cap activities is reportedly among the steps being taken by the FIA to clamp down on satellite projects.

The likes of Alpine were highly vocal with concerns that some teams, who have different non-F1 branches outside of their F1 operation, could potentially be placing staff there and benefitting from knowledge gained without it counting towards the cost cap.

Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, plus the likes of Aston Martin and McLaren, all have satellite organisations to work on wider projects outside of Formula 1.

James Allison for example has recently returned to the Mercedes technical director role after his involvement with INEOS Britannia’s America’s Cup efforts, INEOS being one-third owner of the Mercedes F1 team.

And as reported by Motorsport.com, the FIA has attempted to unblur the lines on these non-F1 projects with the introduction of a technical directive, ‘TD45’, which has declared that any intellectual property finding its way into F1 via one of these outside projects must now be declared under the cost cap.

The ruling is in place then, and the report adds that the FIA has taken further steps to ensure that it can be properly enforced, steps which a source said has created a system that “appears to be working” after “people did not have confidence in the old whisteblower system”.

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The measures are said to include the FIA interviewing staff who are declared as part of these organisations outside of the cost cap, in order to get a clearer understanding of their work, while samples are being taken so the FIA can ensure information is not moving between without being declared.

Motorsport.com add that the ‘top teams’ are also facing a 100-question list to tackle on their 2022 cost cap figures.

Red Bull are the team which has felt the bite of the cost cap most severely to date, having been found by the FIA to have committed a minor overspend breach of the 2021 cap.

The ruling came through in the latter stages of the 2022 campaign, and resulted in a fine of $7 million for Red Bull and a reduction of 10 per cent in their permitted windtunnel time.

The non-F1 project loophole isn’t the only major talking point currently circulating around the paddock, with team spending also firmly under the spotlight in the cost cap era.