FIA have their say on Red Bull’s ‘fair’ penalty for cost cap breach

Henry Valantine
Christian Horner talking to FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem. Silverstone July 2022.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem believes the punishment given to Red Bull for their budget cap breach is a “fair” one, even if some teams were baying for “blood”.

Red Bull were found to have overspent on the 2021 FIA budget cap when the cost reports were released, and calls were loud for the team to be punished in the strongest possible terms – particularly having breached the rules on the first year in which they were enforced.

A $7million fine and a further 10% reduction in development and CFD [computational fluid dynamics] time was the eventual decision of the governing body after the team entered an Accepted Breach Agreement [ABA], with the aim of hampering the team’s 2023 development as their deterrent from breaking the rules again.

Debate raged on as to whether or not the punishment fitted the crime, with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff acknowledging that the decision was “too little for Mercedes, [but] too much for Red Bull”.

Ben Sulayem also took a similar view on the Red Bull punishment, saying that a line needed to be drawn somewhere – and a balance had to be found.

“We learned a lot and a big review is going into it,” the FIA president told reporters about Red Bull’s punishment, as per Motorsport.com.

“Who knows in the first year what is going to be the outcome? We didn’t even expect it. If you look at the other teams, they will say we have been light on them.

“And the penalty? Some of them want them to be hanged and they want to see blood. And the [guilty] teams themselves see it as huge on them. So where do you draw that?

“I mean, we have to be fair also. Do we want to get rid of them or [do] we want them to be straightened up and not do it?”

Another criticism of the budget cap report was the timing of its release, with Red Bull’s breach having been announced after the sport’s summer break, which Ben Sulayem said would be rectified for future seasons.

“The only thing I would say is what we did in September/October, it should be done early,” the FIA president confirmed.

“But as the first year, we learned a lot from it. And we’re still learning. So it is better to come in May; not in October.”

Ben Sulayem also explained that the FIA will be expanding its workforce to deal with the load on them associated with enforcing the cost cap, having learned lessons from a year of having to police how much the teams spend.

“The financial regulation has been the first year; policing it is very hard, and that is why we have discussed also employees: three more in the financial side, three more in the chassis and the PU [power unit]. So, more recruitment is coming ahead,” he said.

“If you don’t have the manpower and the proper people to police it, what’s the use of having this regulation?

“I believe that there was a balance between finance and also the sporting penalties there.”

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