Alfa Romeo boss calls Red Bull penalty ‘a joke’

The budget cap was introduced in 2021 to help bring the field closer together, to make for more competitive racing.

Red Bull’s first constructors’ title since 2013 had a slightly sour taste to it, as did Max Verstappen’s second consecutive championship victory, as a result of the team’s ‘cashgate’ saga.

The team were found guilty of a minor breach of the 2021 cost cap earlier this year and were punished with a $7m fine and a ten percent reduction in wind tunnel testing time for 2023.

The breach led some to question the legitimacy of Verstappen’s maiden title win, however the FIA announced that they had not found Red Bull guilty of purposefully attempting to deceive or gain an advantage, instead claiming that their breach was made up of multiple minor overspends and miscalculations.

The rumours surrounding the team’s cost cap breach began as early as the Singapore Grand Prix, and by the time Formula 1 travelled to Austin, the sport was still awaiting the FIA’s verdict.

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Alfa Romeo team principal Fred Vasseur has suggested that one of the main issues with the new regulation is the time it takes to enforce punishment and complete investigations.

“First of all I think the main issue is the timing,” he claimed.

“We have to speed up the process. It will be much easier and much more appropriate if we could get it earlier in the season.”

Vasseur, who has been linked to the vacant team principal role at Ferrari, has also argued that the FIA’s classification of minor and major overspends should be rethought, as he believes any overspend can have a major impact on a team.

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“We will discuss the point in the next couple of weeks, but minor and major infringement for me is a joke,” said Vasseur.

“Five percent on £103m is £5.5m, that’s three times my budget of development. You can’t tell me that’s a minor infringement.”

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has claimed that the penalty given to his team is ‘draconian’, and has claimed that the reduction in testing time could cost Red Bull up to half a second of lap time.

Max Verstappen will be hoping that his boss is overexaggerating to the media, as losing half a second of pace could prove costly, with Mercedes and Ferrari determined to provide their drivers with a stronger car for 2023.

The Dutchman could be set for a six-way title battle next season, as both Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull drivers have all spoken in recent weeks about their chances of winning the championship in 2023.