Mercedes and Ferrari distance themselves from cost cap breach rumours

Michelle Foster
Fred Vasseur and Laurent Mekies speaking with Toto Wolff. Canada June 2023

Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur and Laurent Mekies speaking with Toto Wolff. Canada June 2023

Mercedes and Ferrari have distanced themselves from rumours that three teams breached F1’s cost cap last season – after all their recoveries would be a lot further along if they’d spent more.

Earlier this week a report emerged claiming that up to three teams had breached the cost cap regulations during the 2022 season. The three teams were not named in the separate reports that came from Motorsport.com and Auto Motor und Sport.

F1 chief Stefano Domenicali called for harsh sporting sanctions if that is the case, although it’s now being said that the FIA have called the reports “factually wrong”.

Mercedes: We are lacking the financial corridor

According to Sky F1’s Craig Slater, the FIA haven’t completed their auditing process, which is “only scheduled to conclude in the coming weeks”,” and that motorsport’s governing body says “talk of potential breaches at this stage are unfounded”.

That, though, has done little to silence the rumours given that last season Red Bull’s budget cap breach for 2021 also emerged, as whispers that grew before three weeks later the FIA confirmed the Milton Keynes squad had overspent. Red Bull were hit with a $7 million fine and a 10% reduction in their Aerodynamic Testing Restrictions.

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has all but denied that his team is involved in the latest round of rumours as they’d be making a lot more changes to the car if they were permitted the budget to do so.

“The cost cap is a real constraint now,” he said as per Motorsport.com, “because you cannot just go for a B-spec car.

“Lewis [Hamilton] and George [Russell] have been pretty vocal about what they would want to change in the car and that’s simply not possible because we are lacking the financial corridor. And that’s why we’re looking very much at next year to change these things.”

The cap has meant a change in mindset with Wolff accepting that it’s become a balancing act for those behind Red Bull, they can either focus on the current season and spend their money on that or they can work on getting right next year.

“When I asked Niki [Lauda], many years ago, what do you want to concentrate on: this year’s championship and win it or next year’s? He would say both,” said the Austrian.

“So, I think it’s always continuing to develop those cars is important for our understanding. At the same time, you mustn’t waste resource when you go to a, let’s say, different layout of car next year.

“So, it’s balancing it out. But I guess that many teams are already quite a large chunk of development into next year.”

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Ferrari too have spent the past year and a bit trying to close the gap to Red Bull only to run out of money, or at least budget cap space, to do so.

That’s meant that while they have made a few big changes to the car, Fred Vasseur says they haven’t been able to do everything they’ve wanted.

“The main driver of this is the cost cap, that you can’t do a new project as was probably the case a couple of years ago,” he said.

“It means that you have to adapt your project to the situation and in these conditions, I think we did a decent step forward.

“You have also to consider that the regulation is much more prescriptive than before and it’s quite difficult to do a big step into the season. But we are, as everybody, already working on the project of next year, trying to correct the direction.”

Read next: FIA respond to allegations of further Formula 1 cost cap breaches – report