Fred Vasseur, the team principal of Ferrari, has strongly criticised the penalties imposed on Red Bull for breaching Formula 1’s cost cap, labelling them as a “big joke.”
Red Bull incurred a £6 million fine and faced limitations on their car development time in October after exceeding the spending limits during the 2021 season.
The manufacturer’s breach was acknowledged through an “accepted breach agreement” reached with the FIA, Formula 1’s governing body.
In addition to the financial penalty, Red Bull saw a deduction of 10 percent from their wind tunnel allocation for the ongoing season.
Despite these sanctions, Red Bull’s performance on the track has appeared unimpeded, with the team securing victories in all 12 races this season.
Max Verstappen’s consecutive victories in eight races have catapulted him to a commanding lead of 125 points over his team-mate Sergio Perez in the drivers’ standings.
Furthermore, Red Bull’s dominance is evident in the constructors’ standings, where they hold 503 points, well ahead of second-placed Mercedes with 247 points.
In an interview with Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, Vasseur voiced his frustration regarding the FIA’s decision, deeming the penalties inadequate.
“Last year’s penalty was not sufficiently severe,” Vasseur emphasised.
“If a situation necessitates it again, a penalty should carry more weight.”
He argued that the punishment for a cost cap breach should reflect a sporting consequence rather than merely a financial fine.
Vasseur continued his argument, using a soccer analogy, “In football, using a hand leads to a penalty, not a non-sporting fine.
“The deduction of 10 percent wind tunnel time is far from sufficient.
“By that stage, most of the work has already been completed.”
The FIA, in its assessment of Red Bull’s breach, characterised it as “minor” and cleared the team of intentionally seeking an advantage over their competitors.
The official statement from the FIA clarified, “There is no evidence to suggest that Red Bull acted in bad faith, dishonestly, or fraudulently.
“Nor did they deliberately withhold information from the Cost Cap Administration.”
Vasseur’s sentiment echoes concerns raised by other competitors.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, narrowly edged out by Verstappen for the title in 2021, expressed his unease over the leniency of the penalties.
“The concern is valid,” Hamilton stated, emphasising that the previous penalties did not serve as a sufficient deterrent.
His teammate, George Russell, supported the notion of proportionate punishments for regulation breaches, stressing the importance of discouraging such incidents in the future.