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Red Bull Racing

Brown says Red Bull budget cap breach constitutes 'cheating'

Zak Brown is the latest key figure from within F1 to wade into the debate surrounding Red Bull's breach of the sport's cost cap in 2021, suggesting a range of appropriate sanctions for offending teams.

Zak Brown
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McLaren CEO Zak Brown has sent a letter to the FIA ​​and Formula 1 expressing his dismay at what he describes as 'cheating' by Red Bull.

In an effort to reduce costs, F1 introduced its first ever set of financial regulations in 2020, limiting teams to spending $145 million per season from 2021, with that figure decreasing by a further $5 million over the following two years.

Having published their findings into all F1 teams' financials for 2021, the FIA revealed earlier this month that Red Bull, Aston Martin and Williams were the three teams not to receive their compliance certificates.

While all three teams were said to have committed procedural breaches of the regulations, Red Bull were also said to have committed a minor overspend breach of less than five percent of the total permitted budget – equivalent to $7.25m.

Representatives from other teams have previously waded into the debate, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff calling any breach of the cost cap regulations a "heavyweight" offence, while Ferrari Sporting Director Laurent Mekies has said there should be "far-reaching consequences" for any team that breaches it.

Brown suggests sanctions for cost cap breach

Brown's letter to the FIA and F1 does not reference Red Bull by name, but does refer to the cost cap offences detailed earlier this month, and suggests a range of appropriate sanctions.

"The overspend breach, and possibly the procedural breaches, constitute cheating by offering a significant advantage across technical, sporting and financial regulations," read Brown's letter, seen by RacingNews365.com.

"The FIA has run an extremely thorough, collaborative and open process. We have even been given a one-year dress rehearsal (in 2020), with ample opportunity to seek any clarification if details were unclear. So, there is no reason for any team to now say they are surprised.

"The bottom line is any team who has overspent has gained an unfair advantage both in the current and following year's car development.

"We don't feel a financial penalty alone would be a suitable penalty for an overspend breach or a serious procedural breach. There clearly needs to be a sporting penalty in these instances, as determined by the FIA.

"We suggest that the overspend should be penalised by way of a reduction to the team's cost cap in the year following the ruling, and the penalty should be equal to the overspend plus a further fine - ie an overspend of $2m in 2021, which is identified in 2022, would result in a $4m deduction in 2023 ($2m to offset the overspend plus $2m fine).

"For context, $2m is (a) 25-50% upgrade to (an) annual car-development budget and hence would have a significant positive and long-lasting benefit.

"In addition, we believe there should be minor overspend sporting penalties of a 20% reduction in CFD and wind tunnel time. These should be enforced in the following year, to mitigate against the unfair advantage the team has and will continue to benefit from."

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