Formula 1’s budget cap, first introduced in 2021, is one of the most ambitious regulatory changes in the history of the World Championship. The $145 million limit was implemented to force the sport’s top teams to downsize and give smaller teams the opportunity to be more competitive on a more level playing field. However, two teams are rumored to have violated the budget cap during the financial mechanism’s first season.
The Race believes the FIA will announce that Red Bull and Aston Martin violated the budget cap during the 2021 season within the next two weeks. The infractions by both teams are expected to be classified as minor breaches by the FIA, meaning that each team exceeded the limit by less than 5 percent of the cap’s total value. Due to the less severe nature of the breach, both teams would be spared from a race ban or a championship exclusion if either is deemed in violation.
However, the plethora of potential punishments for a minor breach ranges from a reprimand all the way up to additional development and testing limitations or a more restrictive cost cap. In Red Bull Racing’s case, the most severe penalty would be a deduction of points in the 2021 World Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships. The controversial conclusion of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix left the margin of victory from Max Verstappen to Lewis Hamilton as only eight points. A deduction of nine or more points would be large enough to change the championship’s outcome.
Given the nature of a minor breach and the gravity of deduction, I highly doubt that international motorsport’s governing body would take that course of action. An FIA spokesperson told The Race, “The FIA is currently finalizing the assessment of the 2021 financial data submitted by all Formula 1 teams. Alleged breaches of the financial regulations, if any, will be dealt with according to the formal process set out in the regulations.”