Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, has finally released its much-anticipated conclusion regarding the overspending of $145 million cost-cap budgets in 2021. It confirms that the Red Bull Racing team did in fact significantly overspend its budget — but so far, no penalties have been announced.
The FIA has noted that Red Bull had a “procedural and minor overspend breach” in 2021. The FIA has previously noted that a “minor” overspend would be spending up to five percent of the budget. The exact amount is currently unclear, but five percent of $145 million would be $7.25 million. Some sources are reporting that the number is much smaller, somewhere around $1-2 million.
“The FIA Cost Cap Administration is currently determining the appropriate course of action to be taken under the Financial Regulations with respect to Aston Martin and Red Bull and further information will be communicated in compliance with the Regulations,” a release from the FIA reads.
According to Motorsport.com, potential punishments include “exclusion from the championship, points deductions, costs cap reductions or testing limitations.”
The FIA has also found that Aston Martin was in a procedural breach of the regulations, though what that means is currently unclear. It likely has to do with the way the team submitted its finance reports; for example, the Williams team was fined for a procedural breach because it submitted its records late.
The other teams were in agreement with the regulations.
As far as punishments go, it’s difficult to imagine what can retroactively be applied. Max Verstappen has already been crowned World Champion for both 2021 and 2022, and it’s very unlikely that the FIA would revoke his titles. In the past, with incidents like Spygate, where a team was in breach of regulations while drivers were largely innocent, the team was punished while the drivers were allowed to retain their Championship points.
However, the confirmation that Red Bull has overspent is only going to add fuel to an already controversial fire. If you’ll remember, the World Championship was ultimately decided in favor of Verstappen due to some strange stewarding calls from race director Michael Masi, who insisted upon a restart in Abu Dhabi despite not necessarily following the traditional restart protocol.
The FIA now finds itself in a deeply uncomfortable position. If it fails to adequately punish Red Bull, it’s setting a precedent that sticking to the cost cap isn’t a big deal. However, adequate punishment could include changing the final results from 2021 well after points and prize payouts have been awarded.