Otmar Szafnauer says Red Bull’s punishment ‘fits the crime’, wants F1 to move on

Sam Cooper
Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer. Austria July 2022.

Otmar Szafnauer surveys the grid in front of the Alpine of Esteban Ocon. Austria July 2022.

Otmar Szafnauer believes Red Bull’s budget-cap punishment “fits the crime” and wants to see the sport move on from the saga.

It was confirmed shortly before FP1 for the Mexican Grand Prix that Red Bull had been given a $7million fine and 10% reduction of their wind tunnel time as a result of a “minor” breach of the cost cap.

Aston Martin too were fined, but only $450k as a result of a procedural breach.

Other team bosses have been reacting to the punishments doled out and while McLaren’s Zak Brown wanted harsher penalties given in the future, Alpine’s Szafnauer believed it was a fair one.

“They are marginally over from what I can tell by reading all the releases and listening to Christian [Horner], but over is over,” Szafnauer, who was Aston Martin team principal in the year for which they have been fined, told Sky Sports F1.

“If we are a half kilogram underweight on track we are excluded from that particular race, so I believe the punishment is a good one.

“The process was followed. I’m happy both the FIA and Red Bull have come to their conclusion. They are happy to move forward and so are we.”

It was then put to the Romanian-American that Red Bull had not issued a public apology, but he said he was not too interested in that.

“Say all we had was a public apology, would that have been good enough? I don’t think so,” he said.

“For me, it’s not about apologising, it’s about understanding. It’s about having the punishment fit the crime and moving forward.”

Szafnauer also provided an insider’s perspective as to how much the wind tunnel time reduction would affect Red Bull and he said while it was “not insignificant”, it will not be crippling.

“It will have an impact but not a huge impact,” he said. “It’s more than 10 per cent between first and last already. We have a scale so it’s not insignificant, but it’s not to the point where it punishes you too much.”

A point Christian Horner has often made is the new process of a cost cap was always going to have teething issues and Szafnauer has also suggested as much. He said he and the Alpine team have installed a “buffer” in their budget estimations and believe as they get more experienced working with a cost cap, they will get closer to spending the exact amount.

“The more refined your processes are, your accounting processes, the closer you can get to the cap and feel comfortable you haven’t missed anything that will put you over,” he replied when asked how hard it is to stay under the cap.

“However, if your processes aren’t very refined, if you don’t have that fidelity, then what you have to do is give yourself a big enough margin that if you did make a mistake, you don’t go over that. That’s exactly what we do.

“So as we go on in time and we get more comfortable we’ll aim to be right on the cap, but today we are millions under just to have that buffer.

“We put in a buffer so we assure ourselves we are under. People make mistakes and you can make mistakes and it’s not malicious or it’s not intentional, but then to be able to sleep well at night, to say ‘we will be under’, we give ourselves that buffer and I think maybe some of the other teams do the same.”

Read more: Christian Horner calls for apology from Red Bull rivals over cost cap allegations