Red Bull aren’t giving up on finding out who leaked the budget cap breach

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen speaking with Helmut Marko as Christian Horner walks away. Bahrain March 2022

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen speaking with Helmut Marko as Christian Horner walks away. Bahrain March 2022

Red Bull’s side of the budget cap saga may be over, the team having signed an Accepted Breach Agreement, but there is still one not so small matter Christian Horner wants clarified.

And that is who leaked the budget cap report information to Red Bull’s rivals?

In late September, Auto Motor und Sport broke the news that two teams, one of them said to be Red Bull, had breached last season’s budget cap.

A month and a bit later, Formula 1 finally has the facts – yes, Red Bull did commit a ‘minor overspend breach’, the figure being $2.2million and the punishment a $7million fine and a reduction in their 2023 car development time.

What we do not know is how the information got out in the first place – and that is a question Horner still wants answers to.

“The accusations made in Singapore were extremely upsetting for every single member of staff, all our partners, everyone involved within Red Bull,” said the Red Bull team boss.

“Obviously, any form of leakage is hugely worrying.

“It’s something we expect to be followed up.”

Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko does not believe it was the FIA who spoke out of turn, instead accusing Red Bull’s rivals.

Calling accusations of cheating “the most unpleasant, completely baseless rumours with the most serious allegations”, he added: “But that didn’t come from the FIA, it came from the competitors.”

But he would like to know where they got the information from in the first place.

“It cannot be that two teams with detailed knowledge went public before we were informed,” he told Sky Deutschland.

However, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff reckons Red Bull need to look in-house for the leak.

“The leak did not come from the FIA, but there are 10 finance directors who sit together all year and find out who did what,” he told Sky.

“There was a violation, it doesn’t really matter how it came about. Violation is violation.

“Who talked about it? I think it was the finance directors.”

But it does matter where the leak came from

Wolff labelled Red Bull’s call for the FIA to find the leak a “total sideshow”, the Austrian even saying it is an “attempt by Red Bull to divert attention”.

And maybe it is – many would say it definitely is – but it is also the right thing.

At the end of the day, someone leaked information to rival teams and that information made its way to the media.

While that is how most scandals in the world eventually make it into the public eye, this information was always going to reach Formula 1 fans as that is what the rules stipulate.

The only thing the leak did was give us time to speculate, and speculate we did, and everyone knows speculation – especially when wide of the mark – damages reputations. Mud sticks, is the saying.

Aston Martin were caught up in the drama as they joined Red Bull on the list of teams said to have breached the cost cap. It turned out theirs was a paperwork thing, not financial, but they too had to deal with the finger-pointing.

As for Red Bull’s overspend, that started off at less than $7.25m and days before they signed the breach agreement it was widely reported as being $2m. It was shown to be $2.2m, so again someone with information shared that.

Red Bull have every right to question where the leak came from. Aston Martin should join the call.

Read more: ‘Red Bull overspend wasn’t cheating, teams lying about traction control is’