Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2023

“Full impact” of Red Bull’s cost cap penalty hasn’t been seen yet – Horner

Formula 1

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says the impact of their penalty for exceeding Formula 1’s cost cap two years ago hasn’t been seen yet.

A year has passed since the FIA penalised the team for exceeding the 2021 budget cap by £1.8 million. Part of the team’s penalty included a reduction on its aerodynamic development allowance over a fixed period, which has now expired.

The sanction has not stopped Red Bull dominating F1 in the meantime. The team has won 19 out of 21 races held in the last year and clinched the constructors’ championship with six rounds of the 2023 season remaining.

However Horner said it won’t be possible to gauge the final impact of their penalty until their 2024 challenger hits the track. “Certainly, you’ve not seen the full impact yet because it obviously has compromised the amount of development that we’ve been able to do this year,” he said.

“Thankfully, we came out with a very strong car at the beginning of the year and we’ve been able to apply most of that development time, from quite early in the season, to next year’s car. So that’s been important.”

Red Bull was the only team found to have exceeded the cost cap in 2021, the year it was introduced, while Williams and Aston Martin also committed procedural breaches. All teams were found to have complied with the cap in 2022, and Horner said the FIA’s investigation of his team’s finances had been extremely thorough.

“The process of the cost cap is evolving,” he said. “It’s a very complex set of regulations that have evolved and the degree of scrutiny this year was phenomenal, in terms of the rigour that the FIA went to. It was a full colonoscopy that we experienced during the summer.”

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Earlier this year the FIA announced a clarification to the budget cap rules concerning its interpretation of the distinction between teams’ F1 and non-F1 activities. Several teams, including Red Bull, have divisions which work on projects closely related to F1.

“The FIA are learning as well from their side, and the rules have evolved,” Horner continued. “Of course, every company is structured in a slightly different way as well which adds to the complexity, whether you’ve got subsidiary accounts or what your reporting group is, for example, so that has a bearing as well.

“So it’s a very complex set of regs and I think the FIA have actually done a pretty decent job from what we’ve seen over the last 12 months.”

F1 will introduce an additional cap on power unit development costs when new regulations are introduced in 2026. Alpine’s interim team principal Bruno Famin said this increased the complexity of ensuring it demonstrated to the FIA that its development expenses were correctly accounted for at its Viry-Chatillon engine facility.

“Now we are implementing the PU cap as well for 2026 then it’s very difficult,” he said. “In Viry, we are working on different projects: we’re working in Formula 1, in Formula E, in Le Mans programme and trying to assign the right expense to the right project is sometimes very difficult.

“The FIA is helping us, to be honest, to trying to make it clear as we are trying to help the FIA as well to improve their process because it’s so complex that it’s quite easy to make a mistake somewhere or to make a misinterpretation of what they want but there is a constant contact communication with them and we are working together on that.”

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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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11 comments on ““Full impact” of Red Bull’s cost cap penalty hasn’t been seen yet – Horner”

  1. If a punishment is yet to show any results, after TWO years. And in those two years, the team that broke the rules wins both championships with record breaking level of dominance… is it really a punishment?

    (No Christian, it’s not)

    1. @Josh

      I think that RB got away with it because they got the design right, so they don’t have the expense of trying out a bunch of different variations to find something that works, but can iterate on a working design, which is far easier.

      In general, I think that the cost cap may be beneficial to RB, because they appear to be the most competent team, so they can make each dollar count more.

      1. @Ludewig

        Fair point, well made.

        In my view though, a punishment is clearly not severe enough to act as a deterrent if all that is needed to avoid it is ‘get the design right’. The punishment for spending millions over the budget should have such a huge negative effect that the teams are TERRIFIED of going over. I don’t see this happening the way things are at the moment.

        1. No team breached the cost cap this year. So the deterrent obviously works.

          1. And it was also the first year of the cap, there were possibilities to get it wrong, now the 2nd year teams know how the stuff works.

  2. It’ll be seen next year, when they only win 20 of the 24 races.

  3. yeah, its not like it was ever a level playing field, or they were punished from a neutral position. Frankly, if they never upgrade the car again till the next regulation change, they are likely to remain streets ahead of the rest. I cant see anyone closing on them any time soon.

  4. FIA haven’t really made the cost cap work yet have they. So many of the zillion regulations were made just to make it harder for rich teams to spend their way to the top, now they could be dropped

    Either way Adrian would be up there, by a mile the most underpaid person in F1, Liberty need an Adrian Cap more than anything!

    1. cost caps are ridiculous, its too easy to have someone else do something, through a shell company or what ever. many companies just have way too many opportunities to move money around, and it not be seen through legal means.

      weight increases really are the best way to penalize performers. even if everyone were spending the same amount of money, one team will almost always do better than the rest, by a good margin, because they are in fact a good team, and there isn’t a lot of political garbage polluting their work flows. You can’t legislate morality.

  5. Robert Henning
    28th October 2023, 17:40

    Well RB20 will answer plenty of questions. Their penalty has expired.

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