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Ben Sulayem: Rivals wanted Red Bull 'hanged' over cost cap breach

The FIA president feels some of Red Bull's rivals wanted much harsher penalties over their cost cap breach as steps are being taken to avoid a repeat.

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem believes some of Red Bull's Formula 1 rivals wanted the team "hanged" as further punishment for breaching the cost cap. In the auditing process for the 2021 season, it was revealed that Red Bull were the only team to exceed the $145 million limit imposed, committing a so-called 'minor' breach. It was revealed that the team were $1.8 million over the cap, but a tax credit situation with United Kingdom authorities meant the team did not receive an expected rebate for engineering and technology research. This accounted for about $1.4 million of the overspend, with the FIA looking favourably on this and reducing the overspend to about $400k, or 0.37% of the available spend. As punishment, Red Bull were handed a $7 million fine and docked some of their development allowance for 2023, including wind tunnel and CFD time. Despite the penalties handed out, Ben Sulayem feels that even more draconian penalties were being pushed for in some quarters.

Ben Sulayem on Red Bull penalties

"I believe that there was a balance between [the financials] and the sporting penalties [handed to Red Bull]," Ben Sulayem explained to media, including RacingNews365.com. "But we learned a lot [from the process] and a big review is going into it, because who knows in the first year [of the cost cap] what is going to be the outcome? "If you look at the other big teams, they will say we have been light on them (Red Bull). "[In terms of] the penalty, some of them want [Red Bull] to be hanged, they wanted to see blood, and the teams themselves see this as [a] huge [thing] themselves. "So where do we draw [the line]? "We have to be fair. Do we want to get rid of them or straighten up and not do it? "The only thing I would say is that what we did in September/October (release the audited accounts) should be done earlier. "But as it is the first year, we have learned a lot from it - and we are still learning. "It is better to come at me in May and not just in October."

President not happy with leaks

Public word of Red Bull's then-potential breach of the cost cap was first released at the Singapore Grand Prix in September, leading to a strong denial from boss Christian Horner. He was also particularly incensed by rival squads Mercedes and Ferrari seemingly having knowledge of Red Bull's financial submission before the team even knew they had exceeded the limit. Ben Sulayem addressed this, believing the story had actually been circulating for a while longer. "We were in Austria having a meeting of the F1 Commission, and we were already talking about it," he explained. "It was already in the news, but it's frustrating sometimes because by the time you finish your meeting, something is going out." In order to make everything smoother for 2023 onwards, Ben Sulayem also revealed that the FIA is currently undergoing a recruitment drive across the technical, sporting and financial regulations. "Policing the financial regulations in the first year has been very hard," he said. "We have discussed employing three more on the financial side and three more on the [technical], so more recruitment is [happening]. "It's not only about the technical regulations or the International Sporting Code, but it is also about the financial regulations and monitoring and policing them. "If you don't have the manpower and the proper people to police it, what's the point of having these regulations?"

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