F1 teams are eagerly awaiting an announcement from the FIA next Wednesday confirming which teams fell below the $145 million limit last year and which exceeded it.
There has been speculation in the Singapore paddock that two teams may have exceeded the cost limit, with it being suggested that one of them committed a minor procedural infringement and the other a major material infringement.
Aston Martin Racing and Red Bull Racing have been singled out, but both teams have downplayed the situation.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Sky F1 on Friday that at the time his team submitted its accounts it was under the limit.
However, subsequent clarifications from the FIA on the areas that should and should not be included in the cost cap may have been key in overshooting.
Late Friday night at the Singapore GP, the FIA issued a statement insisting it was assessing compliance with the cost cap and that it was too early to talk of anyone breaking the rules.
“The FIA notes significant and unsubstantiated speculation and conjecture in relation to this matter, and reiterates that evaluation is ongoing and due process will be followed without regard to any external discussion,” it said.
But while official confirmation of the situation won’t be forthcoming for a few days, Ferrari has urged the governing body to be especially firm, and totally open, in how it deals with the matter.
Laurent Mekies , Ferrari’s race director, told Sky Italia : “It is no longer a secret that two teams broke the 2021 budget cap rules, one by a significant amount, the other by less.”
“We take that very seriously and we hope that the FIA will handle the situation in an exemplary manner.”
“We have 100% confidence in the FIA. They have taken a very strong position in recent weeks and months on other issues.”
“Therefore, we hope that, being such a serious matter, there will be full transparency and the maximum penalties will be applied to ensure that we all compete within the same rules, because its impact on the performance of the cars is enormous.”
Laurent Mekies, Ferrari Race Director
Mekies said that, beyond the importance of the rulings on each case, how the process unfolds from now on is vital to helping teams understand the extremes of the budget limit.
“Sanctions aside, the important aspect is that the FIA can establish that there has been excessive spending,” he said.
“Once that is done, at least we will have confirmation of what are the rules that everyone must comply with. After that, the issue of sanctions can be discussed because of the effect of excess spending in 2021, in 2022 and what it will affect in 2023, because obviously, at the current moment and the point of this season where we are, it also affects the next season.
“But as I have mentioned, the most important thing, for which we expect the utmost severity and the utmost transparency, is that the excess spending is confirmed, as well as the rules under which we all must compete.”
What penalty can Red Bull face if it has breached the F1 spending limit?
Should Red Bull be found guilty of a so-called ‘material breach’ of last year’s rules, the FIA has a number of options as a sanction, including fines, points reduction and even exclusion from the championship.
But given that the end of the 2021 season was already marred by controversy, it is unthinkable that the FIA will change the results of last year’s title fight.
However, at Ferrari they defend that, although this measure would be difficult for many fans to accept, the most important thing is that the teams fully respect the rules.
Asked about the implications of last year’s championship infringement, and how it could influence this year and next season, Mekies said: “We understand that it could be a problem for Formula 1 fans to have to change the results of the past.
“However, it is very important for us to be sure that the rules are respected and they are pure rules and that if they are broken, real sanctions must be applied. And if not retrospectively on the past, at least for the future” .