Martin Brundle says FIA must tighten up ‘crazy’ minor overspend range

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull's Max Verstappen on track at the Dutch Grand Prix. Zandvoort, September 2022.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen on track at the Dutch Grand Prix. Zandvoort, September 2022.

Ex-F1 driver turned pundit Martin Brundle says the FIA must lower the value of what they allow as a minor overspend of the budget cap.

After weeks of speculation, it has been confirmed that Red Bull and Aston Martin were not in compliance with the 2021 budget cap, set at $145m in what was the first season of its existence.

For Aston Martin, they committed a procedural breach, and so did not spend over the limit. Red Bull have though overspent.

Brundle said he has heard that Red Bull have gone around $1.8m over the cap, but under the current rules, a team can spend an extra $7m and still be classed as having committed a minor overspend breach, as the criteria for that is up to five percent.

Brundle stressed that this cannot continue to be the case.

“What seems crazy to me is that a minor breach can be up to five percent overspend on the cost cap at 7 million,” he said on Sky Sports F1’s ‘Any Driven Monday’. “We know that’s a massive upgrade on a car, maybe even a B-spec for some teams.

“So that needs tightening up for starters, because what’s the point in having 140 million, whatever the number ends up being, and then having this five percent variance?

“So I’m assuming that the FIA will have to crack down hard on any minor breaches, but it looks like it could be a reprimand or a fine, will they want to revisit points, will it be manufacturers points or drivers points for 2021?

“Other teams are saying ‘well look, this gives you a head start into ’22, the cars are carried over for ’23, so this is a big advantage’.

“Now we know that pretty much all of the teams are gaming this system within their interpretation of the regulations to varying degrees, but quite clearly, and it’s quite amazing that this information got out over the Singapore Grand Prix weekend. Where did it come from? And how did it get out? But it does seem that Red Bull have crept over the limit.

“We’re hearing numbers of 1.8 million pounds. Unfortunately, we’re not being told that today. We’ll have to wait and see.

“Christian Horner [Red Bull principal] told me it’s an interpretation issue on a number of items they thought they were under, some things have been included now. It’s not it appears the great crime that we were being told by other teams in Singapore. So we now await the news.

“It needs tightening up because the other teams will be under pressure. The team boss will be saying ‘why didn’t you do this? Why don’t you overspend a bit and pay a fine or get a slap on the wrist and go a tenth or two faster?’

“So we need clarity and it needs to be rigid and a five percent variance is way too much.”

Brundle acknowledges that the cap originally was brought in to take away the huge budgets which the top three, Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, had at their disposal which dwarfed the rest of the competition.

Now that this has been achieved, he says it is time to focus on these finer margins.

“I think the concept initially was ‘well at least it’s going to stop the team spending two, three, four hundred million’, that’s been achieved,” said Brundle.

“But now we’ve got to look at the last few million to get fair across the board and it’s also about keeping the pack closer on the grid, the haves and have nots as it were in terms of the sponsorship and the resource, the facilities they have available to them.

“So I think fundamentally, it’s been a success, but it’s just the detail now and it’s got to be made clear that you stick to the cost cap or just under it otherwise, it’s going to hurt.”

The FIA will now set about determining its course of action regarding Aston Martin and Red Bull, though no information has been provided on how far over the budget Red Bull went, or on which punishment is being considered.

This, Brundle argues, is disappointing.

“It’s very disappointing that that information hasn’t been supplied today,” he suggested. “Remember we’re talking about the 2021 season, not this season, so quite why they haven’t been able to get together, now they know the details…

“Presumably there’s some squabbling going on behind the scenes to mitigate this and explain and come up with some reasoning, and it’s thoroughly disappointing that we’ve now had this announcement of what’s happened, but we don’t know the consequences.”

Read more: Red Bull ‘surprised and disappointed’ as FIA confirm 2021 cost cap minor overspend