Andreas Seidl, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2022

Red Bull’s budget cap penalty “clearly doesn’t fit the breach” – McLaren

2022 Mexican Grand Prix

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The FIA did not go far enough in penalising Red Bull for exceeding the budget cap, McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl believes.

The sport’s governing body confirmed on Friday the details of Red Bull’s penalty for its breach of the Financial Regulations, including an overspend of more than £1.8 million. Red Bull was fined $7m (£6m) and had its aerodynamic testing allocation for 2023 cut by 10%.

Seidl praised the thoroughness of the FIA’s work in analysing the expenditure of all 10 Formula 1 teams. However he believes Red Bull’s sanction is too lenient.

“In the end, on the positive side, I think it’s good to see that actually the FIA did a good job in terms of doing the audit where nine teams got it right and where it was confirmed that one team was clearly in breach,” he told Sky. “So that’s a positive outcome.

“But on the negative side it’s also clear that, from my point of view, the penalty clearly doesn’t fit the breach. I just hope that moving forward we’ll have stricter penalties in place.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner repeatedly described the team’s penalty as “draconian” in a 50-minute press conference with media including RaceFans after the FIA announced its decision. He detailed his reasons for Red Bull’s overspend at length, but Seidl said he wasn’t interested in his explanation.

“No I didn’t listen to it because I can imagine it was another fairy-tale hour, probably,” he said. “No, not really interested in that.”

Teams have “absolutely no reason to be in breach this year” following the first experience of making their cost cap submissions, he added. “I just hope if there’s any breach again this year that as I said before then it also ends up being appropriate penalties.”

However Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer believes the FIA’s penalty for Red Bull was appropriate. “They were marginally over from what I could tell by reading all the releases and listening to Christian,” he told Sky.

“But over is over. From a half kilogram underweight on-track we were excluded from a particular race.

“But I believe the punishment’s a good one, that the process was followed. I’m happy that both the FIA and Red Bull have come to their conclusion and they’re happy to move forward and so are we.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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34 comments on “Red Bull’s budget cap penalty “clearly doesn’t fit the breach” – McLaren”

  1. So by saying the punishment is not enough, Seidl is implying it is worth overspending by 0.036% of the budget cap and losing 10% of your future 12 months wind tunnel time? I expect him to put his money on the line and overspend this season if he thinks its worth doing? (He knows its not worth it and he wouldnt do it). Therefore the punushment is a long term penalty that no team would want for such a minor over spend, therefore the punishment is sufficient.

    1. @leeroy I do not see it quite so simply as yourself. Using a financial penalty that does not come from your budget cap means that the disincentive is not consistent throughout the grid.

      Of course no one wants to spend money they don’t have to, and probably more importantly, no one wants to lose wind tunnel time. However for some teams a fine such as that levied will have a much bigger impact on their bottom line than it will for the more highly funded teams.

      1. @cairnsfella I agree with this entirely. RB can pay this out of any excess they have over the cost cap (sponsorships, prize money income etc.), because they were one of the teams consistently spending more than the cost cap before it was introduced. But for someone like Haas, who (currently) don’t even spend the capped amount in the first place, a fine like this could easily be the difference between a midfield spot or last place in the constructor’s, or even whether they stay afloat of go bust. I am disappointed the fine does not come out of the cap.

    2. I think Seidl is clearly stating, not implying, that cheating, and by cheating winning world championships, is unacceptable. In fact, when the cost cap was introduced, Ross Brawn stated:

      “But this has teeth. If you fraudulently breach the financial regulations, you will be losing your championship. So it has serious consequences if teams breach these regulations.”

      1. @biker56

        Yes, but the FIA has admitted that in this particular case Red Bull was not fraudilent.

        Of course this admission may only be in there just because otherwise Red Bull would never have accepted to reach to an agreement so a legal battle would have been inevitable.

        This would have been too damaging for the sport.

        1. Of course this admission may only be in there just because otherwise Red Bull would never have accepted to reach to an agreement so a legal battle would have been inevitable.

          Huge parallels with the Ferrari PU ‘events’.
          FIA can proof an overspend, but they cannot proof ‘cheating’.
          Thus much further than what they did they probably could not go.
          It’s a big miss though IMO that they didn’t reduce the 2023 cap by the 2022 overspend (or a multiple of that).

    3. @leeroy whilst a number of Red Bull fans are claiming that it was “just a misfiled tax credit” and use that to claim that it was therefore not relevant, what is often not being mentioned by them is that the tax credit that Red Bull were applying for is the UK’s Research and Development Expenditure Credit scheme (i.e. that Red Bull were claiming a tax credit directly linked to their R&D expenditure).

      1. Yes, if you accept the Red Bull explanation, 0.37% is neither here nor there. What possible difference does 0.37% make. I mean, it’s barely more than the difference between the pole-sitter’s time and the fourth place time at the last race.

  2. Red Bull (and Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren) are used to spending 2-3x the existing budget cap annually on F1. They have money to spend, so punishing a budget cap breach (minor or otherwise) with a financial penalty does not discourage these teams from exceeding the budget. It’s still below their “budget” — I would have preferred to see a reduction of the team’s following year’s budget.

    Another mockery is the 10% of aero testing time which in Red Bull’s case is 7% because they are sure to win the constructors championship but for a backmarker like Williams 10% would be 11.5%?! It ought to be a flat 10% penalty. Can you imagine if time penalties during/after a race were more lenient if you are in the lead?

    So yes, Andreas is right, the penalty is lenient.

    1. Agreed, the cumulative effect of the wind-tunnel reduction percentage makes it a joke. Christian Horner calls it draconian, but most of the reduction is down to them winning the championship.
      In short, the penalties would be a result for any big successful team, Red Bull must actually be delighted behind closed doors.

      1. I’m amazed that people still don’t understand basic math and the difference between percentages and percentage points.

    2. Like McL or Merc/Fer are finding seconds if they overspend. Did not worked for them over the last 20 years so why should it work now? They should just hire the best people and do a good job. Merc is doing it the best compared to the other 2. And yes RB should be punished for overspending and they are. But what all the other teams want is that they loose their points and are placed back in both championships. Just say it out loud if that is what they want, otherwise shut up, and live with the punishment set by the FIA.

  3. I just think it’s disappointing and not a good look for the sport that the team that overspent ended up winning a closely fought WDC. The fact that it was minor is irrelevant, let’s remember that the $145M isn’t exclusively for car development.

  4. Yet another devaluation of the FIA.
    That “penalty” is a joke.
    Just more of the LibFix “entertainment”.

  5. So, I think the wind tunnel punishment is fair enough, thought I’d be ok with more. But what I’d prefer to see is the fine being divided up and given directly to the other team (about $780k per team) instead of going to the FIA. And in addition to that direct cash payment, every other team would also get an extra $780K added to their budget next year (so cash and the ability to spend more). That would be more fair.

  6. There needs to be a lasting deterrent for violating rules. They need last and this years team points struck.

    I’m not saying Max needs to have points struck, he’s just a driver who already has an asterisk against last year’s championship, but the team needs a kick.

    Also, Christian Horner is just the worst. What happened to the guy I really liked in the early days of the team? He’s become…. Something else. Shame really

    1. Davethechicken
      29th October 2022, 8:43

      First of all it was an outrageous slur that Red Bull had breeched.
      Then it was a “couple of hundred thousand”, in contention.
      Now they have agreed they breeched 1.8 million, part of that being a tax “miscalculation”.
      Are we to presume their accountants didn’t understand tax law, in the UK??? Where exactly is Milton Keynes??
      Then we hear it is for sick pay and catering,and didn’t affect performance? Presumably because the other teams staff don’t get sick or need to eat.. …..
      I did laugh at Siedl’s “fairy tale” quip.

      1. The explanations by RBR merely explain why they thought (or ‘hoped they could argue’) that they were below the cap.

        The reason they overspent is every single $ they spent last year; you cannot earmark a single $ as the ‘overspend’ one.

        The minimum ‘make good’ needs to be a reduction of their spend in 2022, and a penalty on top of that.

  7. Also, Christian Horner is just the worst. What happened to the guy I really liked in the early days of the team? He’s become…. Something else

    Someone peeled off the mask, and you now see what was always there. He’s become… more visible.

    1. I think that he changed overtime due to the pressure that comes with the job. And I think the average team boss in F1, especially in the top teams, are not in that position because of their pleasant personality.

      But it makes me cringe to watch Horner in the last couple of weeks.

  8. If a team things that the penalty is too lenient they can overspend by 0,37% and then ask for the same penalty.

  9. I couldn’t agree more with Seidl, but I don’t recall when Team Enstone got excluded for being half kg underweight.

    1. Want this a reference to Vettels disqualification for too low fuel at the end of Hungary?

      1. @captainpie Underweight explicitly means below the minimum car+driver weight, which excludes fuel.
        Besides, fuel DSQs can only happen when using more than allowed, having a higher flow rate than permitted, or being unable to provide at least a liter sample like in last season’s Hungarian GP case.
        Otmar possibly referred to this particular DSQ, nevertheless.

  10. Those are some strong words by Seidl. Together with Browns letter McLaren take a clear stance. I tend to believe RBR actually fumbled and dropped the ball, so intent isn’t there. Therefore I feel ok with the punishment. Would be better if this fine was included in the 23 budget.

    But this strong stance against what is basically a mistake. .. I don’t know, I’d hold back a little if I were McLaren. It would be a an epic sized foot to stuff in ones face if an accountant made a booboo in McLarens books for their 22 submission. Horner would be insufferable, rubbing it in.

    1. Don’t get that either. Especially since it is actually 0,37%. There must be some wrong doing in the past towards Seidl as he comes across as a sour individual.

      1. Horner is P1 sourpuss

  11. If it “clearly doesn’t fit the breach”, why did McLaren agree to the terms and conditions of the agreement, including the punishments? All teams were informed before that agreement years ago what the available punishments would be and they agreed to it. So what has changed now? Sit down.

  12. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    29th October 2022, 13:15

    In summary a team accepting an ABA will not face a points deduction or a reduction in the cost cap.

    If the cost cap administration in future do not offer an ABA or a team doesn’t accept one, then points can be deducted and monies can be reduced.

    I would assume ORBR accepted the ABA knowing they get to keep the WDCs and WCC. They fought valiantly until they saw it was not working out for them and then conceded, IMO.

  13. Disappointing that Seidl played into Horner’s “they’re all out to get us” narrative, while Wolff and Szafnauer say it is appropriate. Horner is a little brittle on these matters.

    Anyone know what Binotto, if anything, has said?

    1. Binotto is frustated with the penalty and thinks it will have too little effect on the performance of the RB cars.

      He said that on Sky Italy.

  14. I guess McLaren had hoped to no longer be the heaviest fined team in F1 history. To me it is a bit of witch hunt here. It is about 0.37%. Which is still factually an overspend but let’s not get ahead of ourselves that this delivers such advantages.

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