Auto Racing: McLaren Says Red Bull F1 Budget Breach is 'Cheating'

McLaren F1 boss Zak Brown has accused Red Bull of cheating by breaking the budget cap in a letter to governing body Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) president and Formula 1 president. The letter, which argues that budget cap breaches "constitute cheating," was delivered on Monday

Auto Racing: McLaren Says Red Bull F1 Budget Breach is 'Cheating'
Image credit: The Independent

Facts

  • McLaren F1 boss Zak Brown has accused Red Bull of cheating by breaking the budget cap in a letter to governing body Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) president and Formula 1 president. The letter, which argues that budget cap breaches "constitute cheating," was delivered on Monday to the other five teams that have not committed any cost cap violations - Ferrari, Mercedes, Alpine, Alfa Romeo, and Haas.
  • Brown suggested that overspending occurrences and serious procedural breaches should be penalized by a reduction to the team cost cap in the following year, equaling the overspend, in addition to a fine.
  • This comes a week after the FIA announced that two teams violated the 2021 Financial Regulations: Aston Martin is in Procedural Breach and Red Bull committed a Procedural Breach and a Minor Financial Overspend (less than 5% of the Cost Cap).
  • Red Bull, who is currently the championship leader with driver Max Verstappen winning consecutive titles, is accused of violating the $145M budget cap by less than 5 percent. The team says its submission was under the cost cap.
  • The FIA hasn't released details so far, but possible sanctions could include financial and racing penalties. Red Bull will be able to either sign an Accepted Breach Agreement or appeal to an independent adjudication panel following the decision.
  • Despite speculations that this breach could lead to a harsh punishment such as stripping Red Bull of points in the 2021 Drivers' and Constructors' Championships - putting last season's triumphs in jeopardy - the team's special adviser Helmut Marko deemed these rumors "nonsense" as FIA's punishments are traditionally mild.

Sources: BBC News, Eurosport, Formula 1, ESPN, Telegraph, and Express.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Metro. FIA must deliver a clear and just response to instances like this where one team has gained an unfair advantage by breaking the rules. A strong punishment for Red Bull for overspending will deter other teams from future violations. In addition, the financial rules must change - $7M represents a massive upgrade on an F1 car, not a "minor" breach. Team leaders must have greater personal responsibility for finances.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Mirror. The FIA can't be too lenient or will risk creating a precedent that would end the budget cap. But making an example of Red Bull also isn't the right way to solve this issue. Too harsh a punishment would trigger a costly legal battle that is likely to tarnish the organization and Formula 1 itself. The FIA must walk a fine line to get the sentence right, bearing in mind that this was just the first year of these rules.