Cost cap breaches: ‘Ruthless’ FIA performing raids and reading WhatsApp messages

Michelle Foster
Drivers on the F1 grid in Spain with the FIA flag.

Drivers on the F1 grid with the FIA flag.

The FIA are not leaving any stone unturned as they reportedly investigate Red Bull, Mercedes and Aston Martin in the latest budget cap drama with “raids” and “ruthless searches” part of the mix.

That’s according to De Telegraaf’s Erik van Haren.

Earlier this month whispers began to do the rounds that the FIA had questions about the spending of two, potentially three, teams and were conducting further investigations into their 2022 finances.

‘Red Bull, Mercedes and Aston Martin being investigated by the FIA’

But while the FIA sought to downplay that, adamant any talks of breaches were “completely unfounded”, that did absolutely nothing to silence the whispers. In fact, the situation has reportedly now taken a bit of a Dan Brown turn.

According to van Haren, “Red Bull and Mercedes, in particular, have received many questions about their submitted data”, questions that have led to raids.

“During these ‘raids’,” he claims, “drawers are pulled open ruthlessly and everything was examined. Even Whatsapp messages and e-mails are viewed to see the conversations between two people and to see whether or not they have discussed something related to the Formula 1 team.”

It has been suggested the questions about Mercedes and Red Bull relate to their special projects with Helmut Marko telling that it’s “specifically” to do with “the RB17” as there were “people who worked partly here, partly there”.

He added: “The whole cost cap is still too much interpretation and not enough facts.”

Ironically, though, it is Marko himself who could be one of the topics of the FIA’s questions with the De Telegraaf reporting that “other teams have expressed concerns about the role of top advisor Helmut Marko at Red Bull.

“The Austrian is still present at all races, is paid according to a daily rate, but then again does not fall under the budget ceiling because he does not work for Red Bull Racing, but is known as a talent coach.”

Team boss Christian Horner has insisted that Red Bull’s 2022 finances, with the team having been caught out in 2021 when they overspent by $2.2m, are above board. recommends

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“We are going through a process with the FIA, but our submitted figures were considerably below the ceiling,” said Horner. “Compared to other teams, we developed the car much less last year and we hardly had any damage from crashes.”

As for Mercedes, Toto Wolff says there are “1,000 people” working on various projects but when it comes to Mercedes they “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.”

With teams pointing the finger at one another, rivals asking questions about Mercedes and McLaren’s B-spec cars, expect the budget cap rumours to rumble on as the FIA have made it clear they won’t rush the process.

“The timeframe is intentionally not fixed in order not to prejudice the robustness and the effectiveness of the review,” said motorsport’s governing body.

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