Martin Brundle offers solution for F1 teams to avoid cost cap breaches

Michelle Foster
The start of the British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2022.

The start of the British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2022.

With confirmation that Red Bull did breach the budget cap last season, Martin Brundle believes all the F1 team bosses should sign a document that makes them, and their financial team, personally responsible for adhering to the cap.

Six months after the F1 teams submitted their 2021 budgets to the FIA, motorsport’s governing body finally released their findings. And it wasn’t great reading for Red Bull.

The Milton Keynes squad is guilty of overspending on their way to the 2021 Drivers’ Championship title, although by how much the FIA isn’t saying.

They did declare it a ‘Minor Overspend Breach’ which means it was less than 5 per cent of last year’s $145million cap, in other words less than $7.25 million.

But even that, Ferrari says, “could be worth up to half a second a lap”.

Red Bull put out a statement to express “surprise and disappointment” with the FIA’s findings, as their “2021 submission was below the cost cap limit”.

Brundle believes Red Bull team boss Christian Horner and the team’s CFO should personally be held responsible for the breach, as even a minor overspend could give a team a healthy advantage.

Asked on the latest edition of Any Driven Monday is a minor overspend is ‘actually quite a big deal’, former F1 driver Brundle replied: “Yeah, it could be a new front wing or floor or something like that.”

Creative accounting versus company’s name into disrepute

He reckons most of the teams would have probably done a bit of creative accounting, although perhaps not Mercedes given that team principal Toto Wolff would be beholden, probably through a legal document, to a code of conduct.

Brundle says all the teams, even independents like Red Bull, should have to sign a similar document.

“I think all of the teams will be somehow or other making the absolute most of their interpretation of these regulations – overheads are certainly no longer for this department or which personnel are over there working on something else,” he continued.

“But I think also, and it’s a good thing, that the corporate governance of somebody like Mercedes-Benz, for example, is such that they just can’t be seen to be breaching something like this.

“I think that needs to be the same for all the teams.

“I like to think, and I understand it to be the case, that somebody like Toto has to sign a document to comply with there and Christian Horner at Red Bull and all the key personnel, all the financial personnel, should be personally locked into this.

“I think that’s a critical area so that they’re personally responsible and accountable, as well as their company in being transparent and honest and accurate with these numbers.”

Teams will always try to gain an advantage

Brundle doesn’t believe Monday’s announcement has hurt Formula 1 as teams trying to gain an advantage over their rivals is part of the game.

He does, however, feel the FIA should penalise those found guilty in a “clear” and “hard” manner.

“Not really no,” he said, “as long as it’s controlled and as long as the penalties are crystal clear, and hard enough.

“I think it’s a bit like a double diffuser or floppy front wing… people game that system as well, that’s Formula 1 for it.

“It’s all about reading the regulations, once see what they say and twice to see how to get around them in terms of beating the other nine rivals in the same piece of paddock and pit lane as all the other races through the year.

“So I think controlling it… because if you didn’t then teams would spend be spending five, six, seven 100 million. They’d spend as much money as they can because they competitive animals.

“I think it’s fundamentally a good system and it is early stages, we have to remember that. But I think it’s a it’s a cornerstone of why Formula One strong at the moment.”

Read more: F1 cost cap: What punishments are Red Bull facing after minor breach?