Ferrari unhappy with 'very insignificant' Red Bull cost cap punishment, says racing director Laurent Mekies
Red Bull were punished for minor 2021 cost cap breach, with a 10 per cent reduction in their wind tunnel time most damaging; Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies says the punishment is "very insignificant"
Last Updated: 29/10/22 6:28pm
Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies says the Italian team are "not happy" with Red Bull's "very insignificant" punishment for breaching Formula 1's 2021 cost cap.
The FIA announced on Friday Red Bull's 'minor' breach of the $145m limit in Max Verstappen's maiden title-winning 2021 campaign had resulted in a $7m fine and a 10 per cent reduction in their wind tunnel time over the next 12 months.
Ferrari have been Red Bull's closest challengers in 2022, but failed to build on a strong start to the season, with Verstappen retaining his drivers' title and the Dutchman's team ending Mercedes' eight-year streak of constructors' championships.
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After telling Sky Italia on Friday Ferrari were "not happy" with the decision, Mekies provided further details on his reasoning when he spoke to Sky Sports F1 on Saturday, ahead of qualifying at the Mexico City Grand Prix.
"I think for the sport, it's good that the breach was clearly established by the FIA," Mekies said.
"There's been the discussions for weeks and weeks, now at least we have a black and white decision where the breach is there, and the amount of the breach is there. It's also good that the breach is admitted by all parties involved.
"On our side, and you would probably expect it, we think the penalty is not going to be anywhere close to balance for what one could obtain from the amount of overspending we are talking about.
"We certainly feel it is low. We don't see it on the same scale as being able to compensate the overspend that was done."
Red Bull reached an 'accepted breach agreement' (ABA) with the FIA on Wednesday, in which the team had to admit their wrongdoing, having come in $2.2m over the cap after the FIA found 13 cases of costs being incorrectly excluded or adjusted.
The FIA acknowledged if a tax credit had been correctly applied Red Bull would have only been $0.5m over, resulting in a breach of 0.37 per cent.
Mekies and Ferrari's disappointment with the ABA stems from the fact they believe Red Bull will be able to use the money saved on reduced wind tunnel time to develop other elements of their 2023 car, offsetting the potential impact of the penalty.
"More crucially, regardless of what numbers you come up with for the 10 per cent reduction in aerodynamic testing, the truth of the matter is that because it's not combined with any budget cap reductions, they will be completely free to spend that money elsewhere, whether it be weight reductions or suspension development," Mekies said.
"Therefore, it is likely that when you combine these two effects, the resulting lap-time (change) is probably going to be very insignificant."
The FIA did not have the option of reducing Red Bull's spending limit in 2023 as an option within the ABA, and Mekies believes this is a rule that should be changed in the future.
"It is not something that was available to the FIA if they were going down the route of the ABA," Mekies said.
"This is unfortunately one of the weaknesses of the regulations that they have written, and yes, I think it probably needs to be reviewed in the future."
Shovlin: Horner claims are an exaggeration
Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin described claims over the strength of the penalty made by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner had been an "exaggeration".
Horner argued on Friday the limiting of Red Bull's wind tunnel time was "draconian" and could cost his team up to half a second a lap of performance.
The sliding scale of wind tunnel runs teams are allowed depending on where they finish in the previous year's constructors' championship means Ferrari and Mercedes, who look set to finish second and third respectively, will hold an even greater advantage over champions Red Bull.
"I think describing it as draconian is an exaggeration," Shovlin said.
"Reducing the number of runs does limit your freedom when you're developing a concept, but we're in reasonably well explored regulations now.
"You definitely have to be more efficient, but if it were half a second, which I've heard mentioned, then a team at the back of the grid would have over three seconds advantage to one at the front, and that simply isn't the case.
"But it depends on how well you make decisions during the year. I'd have a thought a tenth, or maybe two tenths at the upper end, is realistically what that would cost you."