Red Bull handed $7m fine and wind tunnel penalty by FIA for Formula 1 cost cap breach
Red Bull finally handed punishment for minor cost cap breach ahead of Mexico City GP, with 10 per cent reduction in wind tunnel time most damaging; Red Bull were $2.2m over the $145m limit and came to an 'accepted breach agreement' with F1's governing FIA
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 28/10/22 5:15pm
Red Bull have been handed a $7 million fine and restrictions on car development time for breaching last season's Formula 1 cost cap.
Following over two weeks of speculation, and criticism from rivals, after a 'minor' breach of the $145m limit in Max Verstappen's maiden title-winning campaign, Red Bull were given their punishments on Friday at the Mexico City GP after reaching an 'accepted breach agreement' [ABA] with the FIA.
The ABA meant Red Bull had to admit their wrongdoing - with the team $2.2m over the cap after inaccurately excluding or adjusting a number of costs - but crucially brought with it an end to an F1 saga and less severe punishments.
The FIA acknowledged if a tax credit had been correctly applied Red Bull would have only been $0.5m over.
"There is no accusation or evidence that Red Bull has sought at any time to act in bad faith, dishonestly or in a fraudulent manner, nor has it wilfully concealed any information from the Cost Cap Administration," read an FIA statement.
Red Bull have received both a financial and a minor sporting penalty, with a 10 per cent reduction in wind tunnel time over the next 12 months most damaging.
Red Bull were already set to have less time in their wind tunnel - where F1 teams test and perfect aerodynamics on their car - than their rivals due to winning this year's constructors' championship, which they wrapped up last weekend in the USA to follow up Verstappen's second drivers' title.
There is a sliding scale of wind tunnel runs in F1 depending on where a team finishes.
With their penalty, Red Bull are set to have 25 runs in their wind tunnel next season instead of 28. Ferrari, by reference, will have 30 runs if they finish second in the championship, and Mercedes 32 should they end up third as expected. The constructor in last place has 46 runs.
Sky Sports F1 pundit Martin Brundle, however, said earlier this week that Red Bull could be hit with a 25 per cent reduction in wind tunnel time, so some may believe they have got away lightly.
The $7m fine is not a reduction in their budget cap for next year, which is $135m.
Aston Martin, meanwhile, were also given their punishment on Friday for their procedural breach.
The team have been handed a $450,000 fine for failing to file accurate full year reporting documentation in respect of 2021. Williams took a fine for a similar breach earlier this year.
How did Red Bull go over the limit?
Red Bull were first accused of a minor breach - an overspend of less than five per cent [$7.25m] - of F1's new-for-2021 cost cap on October 10, and had been in discussions with the FIA since that revelation.
The team - amid 'cheating' accusations from McLaren boss Zak Brown and fierce criticism from other rivals - have protested their innocence throughout.
$1.7m of their $2.2m overspend has been revealed to be owing to tax issues.
It has now been confirmed by the FIA that Red Bull made errors on budget cap costs such as catering, social security contributions, apprenticeship levies, unused spare parts for the car, and charging certain costs to Red Bull Power Trains.
The FIA pursued an ABA first as per the financial regulations, and Red Bull effectively entering a plea bargain ruled out the more severe punishments for a minor breach, such as points deductions or a reduction of future caps.
In already hugely controversial circumstances, Verstappen only beat Lewis Hamilton by eight points for last year's drivers' crown.
If Red Bull had rejected the FIA's terms, the case would have gone to the cost cap adjudication panel and the full range of penalties would have been back on the table. After that, it could have even escalated to the International Court of Appeals; a dragging out of the scandal no one wanted.
Analysis: Red Bull still feel this is a tough sanction
Sky Sports News' Craig Slater:
"This is Red Bull saying: 'We accept we are in error, we overspent' and the FIA have delivered the sanction.
"It's less of a sanction than a lot of people have been talking about.
"The wind tunnel reduction of 10 per cent is a lot less than a lot of people were speculating; it could have been 25 per cent.
"My understanding from some soundings within the team is that Red Bull still feel this is quite a tough sanction, given they were only slightly over the cap.
"In the run-up to all of this, there has been some quite strong words exchanged behind the leading teams - we had Toto Wolff, Ferrari and then Zak Brown weighing in on this. In a leaked letter, Brown equated breaking the cost cap with cheating.
"But the FIA statement addresses talk of cheating, by saying: 'There is no accusation or evidence that RBR has sought at any time to act in bad faith, dishonestly or in a fraudulent manner, nor has it concealed wilfully any information from the cost cap administration.'
"And that has been pretty consistent throughout as far as the FIA is concerned.
"Let's see what the other teams make of this. They cannot appeal this, but it won't stop them talking about it."