Two Formula 1 teams are believed to have exceeded the sport’s budget cap in the first year it was introduced, according to reports in German and Italian media.Max Verstappen to the world championship last year, is one of the teams which may have overspent, according to reports in La Gazzetta dello Sport and Auto Motor und Sport.
F1 introduced its budget cap last season. Teams were required to keep their spending below $145 million, excluding some items such as the salaries of its drivers and top management.
Any team which exceeded the spending limit stood to gain an advantage over its rivals as the additional funds could allow them to employ more staff, conduct more testing or produce more parts.
Red Bull were involved in a year-long fight with Mercedes for the championship. Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton arrived at the final race tied on points. While Verstappen narrowly won the drivers’ title, Mercedes took the constructors’ trophy for the eighth year running.
Despite Red Bull’s development push, which secured the first championship for one of its drivers since 2013, the team began the new season in strong shape. Its new RB18 has proved the car to beat since its early reliability problems were cured. Verstappen can win the drivers’ championship in Singapore this weekend, and Red Bull are unlikely to be overhauled in the constructors’ standings.
The development poses the first significant test of F1’s budget cap rules. A wide range of penalties are available to the FIA if any team is found to have exceeded the spending limits. These include fines and further restrictions on spending in future seasons.
The available penalties also include points deductions for the season in question, for both the team and driver. Verstappen beat Hamilton to the title by just eight points last year, but a retroactive change to the championship outcome nine months after the season ended would be an enormously controversial and unpopular move.
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Last year’s championship was already overshadowed by the mishandling of the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by the FIA’s F1 race director Michael Masi. He lost his job after the sport’s governing body admitted he made an “error” in arranging a final lap restart having only allowed a portion of the lapped cars to regain the lead lap, instead of all of them as the rules required.
Teams were required to supply details of their 2021 spending by the end of March this year. Williams became the first team to fall foul of F1’s Financial Regulations in June, when it was fined for submitting its paperwork late.
An FIA spokesperson told RaceFans: “The FIA is currently finalising 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.”
The possible penalties for exceeding the budget cap
If a team has overspent on their cap by up to five percent, the cost cap adjudication panel have the ability to apply a variety of sanctions on offending teams. These include:
- Fines (to be determined on ‘case-by-case’ basis)
- Deduction of points from the constructors’ championship for the season in which the breach occurred
- Deduction of points from the drivers’ championship for the season in which the breach occurred
- Suspension from sessions during race weekends such as practice, qualifying, or sprint races but not grands prix themselves
- Limits on aerodynamic testing allowances
- Reduction of cost cap for the season following from a year when the sanction is applied (breaches for 2021 will result in reduced caps for 2023)
For teams that overspend by more than 5%, the cost cap adjudication panel can apply the same sanctions as above, but with the additional option of excluding teams from the championship.
All of these penalties can be suspended, meaning they will not be applied directly but if a team commits a similar breach a second time. The panel may also place offending teams under increased scrutiny and supervision for the future.
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