The FIA has released the results on the compliance of the teams' 2021 budgets with respect to the budget cap set for that season of $145 million, with eight teams staying within the limits imposed by the regulation.
Aston Martin were guilty of a procedural breach, while Red Bull were found to have committed both a procedural and a minor breach which means they overspent by less than 5% of the allowed budget. If a purely economic sanction is looming for Aston Martin, for Red Bull the situation is much more complex.
The range of possible sanctions is very wide, with the possibility that sports sanctions are also imposed in addition to financial ones. Ferrari, Mercedes, and McLaren have already stated that they expect harsh penalties that guarantee the effectiveness of the budget cap and its compliance.
The exact amounts relating to the overrun attributed to Red Bull have not yet been officially disclosed, however RacingNews365.com understands it to be $1.8 million over according to sources.
It is clear that depending on the extent of the violation, the resulting technical advantage is greater or lesser and this in fact constitutes the yardstick on which the FIA, and the judging panel, will have to commensurate the penalties to be applied.
It is worth going into details, because if technical/sporting fraud is immediately understood (for example the circumvention of the instantaneous consumption of the power unit), the impact on performance of an infringement of the financial regulation is much less so.
Having an extra budget can allow, depending on how much this amounts to, much more operational freedom and human resources for the team in question compared to its rivals.
This is something to consider the most relevant from a strategic point of view. For example, by having an extra €1 million it is possible to hire eight more engineers, thus speeding up both the design phases and the analyses for the development of the car.
It is therefore correct to say that an increase in the budget does not always correspond to a greater number of developments, in terms of individual components actually made, but that the development process can be speeded up, thus introducing changes to the car more quickly.
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Overrun on budget means teams can allocate resources better
With an overrun of the budget cap of two million, not only the number of employees can be further increased, but also the individual developments on the car can be both in number or frequency, or in size.
In practice it is correct to argue that four more configurations of rear and front wings can be produced for a total of 16 front wings and as many rear wings.
With €3 million more, the increase could also concern the production of five more versions of floors (a component mostly developed in 2022). Every million more up to a maximum of €7.2 million, enables for car evolution and also a more frequent replacement of parts of the car equal to about 35 per-cent of the total.
Non-aerodynamic parts, such as the uprights, could also be modified to weigh less and reduce the unsprung masses of the car. It seems correct to focus precisely on weight, obtained through a different weave of the fibers of the composite materials of floor, wings and parts of the bodywork.
A long and complex process of functional and structural analysis is the basis, as this can lead to a clear increase in performance. The weight issue was definitely one of the most relevant to the teams in the current season, with many cars overweight by more than ten kilograms.
Having the possibility of proceeding with a radical weight reduction and for the creation of prototypes, which is extremely costly in economic terms, can be made possible thanks to an accurate allocation of the initial project resources in the previous season.
In practice, allocating part of the previous budget to the next project, as it was spent during the previous year, precisely because the initial phase of each project develops one year earlier.
In fact, it is correct to underline that the financial presentation filed with the FIA, concerning the entire activity carried out by the team throughout the year, and therefore also the design phase of the next car.
It therefore seems clear that the advantage deriving from a breach of the budget in one year is reflected in the next. This produces a stable advantage in the medium term (i.e. for at least two consecutive seasons) and can have similar performance effects as an athlete who has used doping beyond the period in which the event has occurred.