Martin Brundle: Budget cap punches will keep coming as rivals have Red Bull on the ropes

Michelle Foster
Zak Brown and Christian Horner with the camera dividing them in a press conference. Austin October 2022

McLaren CEO Zak Brown and Christian Horner with the camera dividing them in a press conference. Austin October 2022

Martin Brundle reckons Christian Horner should get used to verbal punches from Toto Wolff and Zak Brown as they have Red Bull on the “ropes” over their budget cap breach.

Declaring Red Bull had overspent for last year’s budget cap, the Milton Keynes squad committing a ‘Minor Overspend Breach’, the FIA announced a $7million fine and the loss of 10 per cent of their 2023 wind tunnel time and CFD quota.

Mercedes and McLaren were the first two rival teams to have a say on that, neither particularly happy.

There is no love lost between Brown and Horner after the McLaren CEO made his feelings regarding those who break the budget cap abundantly clear when he wrote a letter to the FIA that used the word “cheating”.

That set the tone for his comments on Red Bull’s penalty, the American saying in future there should be “stronger action against those that wilfully break the rules”.

Wolff, who had previously told Horner he should probably speak with his CFO on occasions, reckons if the other nine teams can keep within the cap, Red Bull should have done so too.

He added only time will tell “how detrimental” the loss of wind tunnel time will be, while the penalty is “not” much of a hardship for a team of Red Bull’s finances.

It is fair to say neither Brown nor Wolff will be giving Horner the apology he wants from rivals who accused Red Bull of cheating.

In fact, Brundle reckons Horner should be prepared for a few more verbal blows.

“Christian and Red Bull are on the ropes over this and I fully expect Toto and Zak and others to keep punching, because they have them on the ropes,” he told Sky Sports F1.

“That’s the nature of this little crucible we live in.”

Along with announcing Red Bull’s penalties, the FIA also confirmed their overspend at $2.2million, a large part of which was because of an unclaimed tax credit.

But while Horner is adamant none of the overspend went into developing the car, rivals are insisting it gave Red Bull a couple of tenths of a second on the track.

They also want the FIA to re-evaluate what a minor overspend is.

Brundle agrees with them that a “breach is a breach”, adding that a minor overspend should not be more than 200k.

“Minor breach is wrong because everybody is super-upset about £432,000,” said the former F1 driver.

“A minor breach goes up to $7.25million, a full year’s development budget – it clearly makes no sense.

“A breach is a breach. There should be a rounding number, $100,000-200,000 maximum and then you have to justify it.

“It has to be the way, otherwise the terminology suggests it is not very serious.”

Read more: Toto Wolff says budget cap breach penalty is ‘too little for Mercedes, too much for Red Bull’