Formula One champions Red Bull have been fined $7 million for breaching a budget cap last season and will have 10% less wind tunnel time over the next year, the governing FIA said on Friday.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) added in a statement ahead of this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix that the decision, accepted by Red Bull, was final and not subject to appeal.
The outcome meant Red Bull’s titles were safe. The team have won the 2021 and 2022 drivers’ championships with Max Verstappen as well as this year’s constructors’ crown, their first since 2013.
The FIA said the British-based team had exceeded the cap by 1.864 million pounds ($2.15 million) but the sum would have been 432,652 pounds had they correctly applied a UK notional tax credit.
Formula One introduced the cap last year to rein in runaway spending and level the playing field, with the total reduced from $145 to $140 million this year. It is due to be $135 million next season.
The FIA announced on Oct. 10 that Red Bull had a ‘minor overspend’ and also committed a ‘procedural breach’.
Aston Martin, owned by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, also accepted they had committed a procedural breach and were fined $450,000.
The FIA’s Cost Cap Administration recognised Red Bull Racing (RBR) had cooperated throughout the review process, providing additional information and evidence when requested.
“There is no accusation or evidence that RBR has sought at any time to act in bad faith, dishonestly or in fraudulent manner, nor has it wilfully concealed any information from the Cost Cap Administration,” it added.
The wind tunnel penalty will hurt Red Bull more than the fine, with the team owned by the Austrian energy drink brand and one of the best-resourced on the grid.
“That represents anywhere between a quarter and half a second’s worth of lap time. That comes in from now, that has a direct effect on next year’s car and it will be in place for a 12 month period,” said team boss Christian Horner.
“We will have 15% less wind tunnel time than the second-placed team in the constructors’ championship and 20% less than the third place,” he added.
“So that 10% put into reality will have impact on our ability to perform on track next year.”
As champions, Red Bull were already due to have less wind tunnel time than their rivals in another measure designed to make the sport more competitive.
Rivals had called on the FIA to come down hard on Red Bull, arguing that any breach brought carry-over benefits for this season and next, and some felt the punishment did not go far enough.
“From my point of view, the penalty doesn’t fit the breach. I just hope that moving forward we have stricter penalties in place,” McLaren principal Andres Seidl told Sky Sports television.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said: “Overall, it’s good to see that there is a penalty, whether we deem it too low or too high.”
Aston Martin’s spending came in below the budget cap but the FIA found some costs, including in respect of the new factory at Silverstone and staff catering, were incorrectly excluded or adjusted.