Alpine boss sends FIA warning about Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari

Alpine were already under the budget cap before it was introduced in 2021, unlike Red Bull and Mercedes who made staff redundant.

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has revealed that the Enstone-based side have lost their early budget cap advantage, with the bigger teams beginning to look for “loopholes” in the current system.

2021 saw a $145 million cap brought in for all the teams, resulting in the likes of Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes having to make staff redundant to keep below the cap.

Red Bull, of course, failed to do so and were punished accordingly by the FIA this year as a result.

The Austrians were found guilty of having breached the 2021 cap by $2.2 million, resulting in a $7 million fine and a 10-percent reduction in wind tunnel time.

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Alpine were one of the best-positioned teams when the budget cap was put in place, with the French outfit having already worked to a budget that suited the cap, meaning their operations hardly changed, compared to others.

Understandably, this gave them an early advantage, with the side having been able to work like normal, whilst the bigger teams scrambled to make in-house adjustments to avoid breaching the cap.

With two years of the budget cap having now been completed, though, teams are starting to adjust to the new financial climate and conditions that they have to work to, resulting in Alpine’s advantage disappearing.

Szafnauer also puts this down to the bigger teams “looking to exploit” the rules, in regard to hiring back former employees.

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“When everyone’s the right size, you lose that. You lose that a little bit,” Szafnauer told reporters.

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“What some of the other bigger teams are now doing is they’re looking to exploit or have a better understanding of where there are loopholes or some organisational changes you can make to actually stuff more people under that budget cap.

“They’re looking at, ‘Yeah, I got rid of a hundred people, but now I want to hire back because under the budget cap I was able to find spots for them where they either don’t count as a whole person or they do some marketing stuff or whatever it is, or they work on a boat for some of the time’.

“We’re not there yet. I think they’re there already, and that advantage of being right at the beginning does dissipate.”