Mercedes stand defiant as cost cap breach rumours linger

Michelle Foster
Mercedes revised no zeropod sidepods. Monaco May 2023

Mercedes revised no zeropod sidepods. Monaco May 2023

Toto Wolff has all but denied Mercedes are one of the three teams rumoured to be facing additional questioning by the FIA over last year’s cost cap budget.

According to whispers, denied by the FIA but growing in volume, three teams potentially painted outside the lines when it came to last year’s budget cap leading to a hold-up in the release of the report on 2022’s spending.

While they haven’t been accused of breaching the cap, their books have the FIA asking additional questions.

Toto Wolff insists all at Mercedes are ‘one entity’

One of those relates to staffing and teams using non-F1 personnel to work on F1 jobs thus keeping them off the books while still using their expertise.

F1’s powerhouse teams; Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari as well as Aston Martin, all of whom have outside projects such as Le Mans, the Valkyrie, and the America’s Cup, found their names being bandied about.

Wolff though has denied that Mercedes have operated in such a manner, adamant everyone at Mercedes falls under “one entity”.

“I think very hard because some the big teams have 1000s of people in various projects, commercial and non-commercial projects,” the motorsport boss told when asked ‘how hard’ it was for the FIA to police the cap.

“With us, it’s a little bit easier because we have everything in one entity. So you can see that the employees are all in one place, and you can see where it’s been attributed to or not. It becomes more complex when you have a variety of subsidiaries.”

He’s called for a rethink come 2026, saying: “I’ve never been shy of saying, with the 2026 regulations, we should get rid of all of that overall.”

With concerns over the teams working in a grey area, the FIA introduced a technical directive, TD45, that states that any ‘intellectual property’ utilised from affiliated projects outside of F1 will now be included in the cost cap budget.

This, however, only come into effect as of 1 January 2023.

Wolff concedes that while the F1 side of Mercedes could make additional money using one of their team members on outside projects, that is no longer permitted. recommends

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“In the real world, it’s quite a challenge because we’re making revenue and money with our engineering projects,” he added.

“It means we could not assign a person that is working in F1, not even for a minute into non-F1. But I think it’s the right thing to do for the sport to say: this is F1, this is not F1.

“And the moment somebody spends 10 seconds on an F1 project, he should be fully in F1. It’s definitely the way we need to go.”

Last year Red Bull were found guilty of breaching the 2021 cost cap with an overspend that amounted to $2.2 million. The Drivers’ Championship winners were fined $7m for that while also losing 10 percent of their ATR time for the 2022 season.

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