A Red Bull Christmas party or a new front wing? ‘Tight’ concern over cost cap rules

Michelle Foster
Christian Horner with a microphone.

Christian Horner spoke in front of the media.

Formula 1 must not tighten the budget cap restrictions to the point that employees “bear the brunt of those changes”, says Christian Horner.

Having implemented a budget cap in 2021, which has been slashed from $145m in its first year to the $135m that it is today, the FIA is now looking at more items that could be included in the cap come 2026.

Red Bull: Employees must not ‘bear the brunt’ of 2026 cost cap changes

Additional reporting by Sam Cooper

Earlier this week it emerged that maternity leave was one of the most contentious elements being debated, the topic falling under the 2026 Concorde Agreement discussions.

According to reports, the FIA were considering raising the cap to $220m but that it would include more items. They’d also remove some of the limits on capital expenditure.

That topic of maternity leave, though, raised eyebrows.

That has since been excluded from the final draft listing what would fall under the cap with Horner warning that teams’ staff members should not be the ones carrying the cost of the cap.

Comparing the morale boost of a Christmas party versus the need for a new front wing, the Red Bull team boss insisted: “It’s a matter of striking a balance.

“I think that the most important thing for 2026 is that the employees don’t bear the brunt of those changes.

“There’s a sensible discussion about what’s being included, what is to remain excluded and what actually is relevant to creating performance.

“For example, does a Christmas party actually make your car go faster?

“Now, if that is to be included in the cap, of course, every technical director is going to want a front wing as opposed to a Christmas party, which is a bit tight. And so it’s finding that balance.

“I’m not saying that our technical director doesn’t like Christmas parties, but he likes front wings!

“So it’s finding that kind of balance where the employees aren’t the ones that bear the brunt of this. But I think, by and large, it’s been a very productive and sensible discussion.

“It’s finding that balance between what are exclusions and what is included within that higher number.”

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Alpine’s Bruno Famin reckons rather than up the cap and the list of inclusions, Formula 1 should “simplify the process.

“It’s a very complicated process, the financial regulation, and if we can manage it a bit differently on certain points, it will be a bit easier, a bit simpler to manage as well.”

Sauber representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi, meanwhile, wants to see the 2026 budget cap make allowances for the “cost of life”, as he puts it, as there is a discrepancy between operating in England or, as his team does, Switzerland.

“I think that the target will be to avoid areas that can have different interpretation from the teams, especially the definition of F1 or non-F1 activities that are a sensible one,” he said.

“The target is to have a level playing field, especially in the car build departments. So all these learnings that we had during these years, I think that can be summarised in the new regulation.

“It’s an opportunity for all of us to have a clear framework. And I think for teams like ourselves it will be important to introduce an element that can, I would say, equalise differences in terms of cost of life, because of course there is a kind of discrepancy between the cost in Switzerland and in other countries.

“I think that we should put all the teams at the same level, at least as a starting point, and so the difference will be the ability of the people and the quality of the work not other factors that can negatively affect this starting point.”

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