FIA is damaging its reputation with Cashgate saga and incompetence

Red Bull were found guilty of a minor breach of the 2021 financial regulations on Monday.

Even the most ardent of FIA sympathisers would have to accept that the governing body has been a mess in the last 12 months.

It all started in Abu Dhabi last year, and after three months of careful investigations, we eventually got a clear response as to what happened, and why.

New president, Mohammed ben Sulayem, completely changed the structure of race control, and tried to ensure that the mistakes made last year would not be repeated.

Errors from last season do not seem to have resurfaced, but new ones certainly have, some of which have occurred in the last week.

READ: Red Bull breach makes it more difficult for Lewis Hamilton to accept ‘robbery’

Last season, the governing body imposed Formula 1’s first budget cap, and the teams were required to stay within the $145 million limit, while documenting their expenses.

Williams were fined for a procedural breach earlier in 2022 after they submitted their paperwork late, and the FIA have since been looking at everyone else’s files.

Admittedly, they were not helped by the fact that a report revealed that Red Bull and Aston Martin had breached the regulations.

It was initially thought that the Austrian side had committed a material breach by spending over five percent more than was permitted, and all was set to be revealed last week.

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Amid pre-existing, lingering suspicion around F1’s governing body from last season, Mercedes became ever more accusatory of Red Bull.

To their minds, while everyone else had stayed within the limits of the cost cap, Red Bull had not, and the effects that can have on performance can be long lasting, which is why Toto Wolff was so unhappy.

He suggested that Christian Horner’s team had been under investigation for months, and that they had overspent by a significant margin.

Horner was livid at those remarks, and even considered legal action against those conducting the allegations.

After the tensions between Mercedes, Red Bull and the powers that be, and the high-profile reports of overspending, when the FIA delayed their final verdict, it all seemed rather odd.

The governing body needed more time to finish their calculations, but it is also entirely possible that Red Bull were speaking to them behind closed doors to agree a suitable fine for breaking the rules.

We do not know which one of those eventualities took place, because the FIA never told us, and therein lies the serious organisational problem.

A transparent authority reveals the reasons for delays, disruptions and decisions, but what we seem to have got instead is a repeat of 2019, when Ferrari settled their engine controversy in private.

Eventually, it was confirmed on Monday that Red Bull had exceeded the cost cap by less than five percent, constituting a minor breach.

We still have not been told how much they went over by, or what their punishment will be.

A points deduction or a fine are both plausible, but the sad truth at the moment is that we might never be enlightened as to those details.

READ: Christian Horner lashes out at ‘very dangerous’ FIA

The FIA, currently, is causing significant damage to its reputation by refusing to disclose information that fans have a right to be made aware of.

All that does, instead of providing the necessary clarity, is cause an unnecessary level of suspicion from cynical fans who have suggested collusion between the FIA and Red Bull since that night in Abu Dhabi.

But when a Red Bull employee is telling journalist Chris Medland that the communication from the FIA is “vague”, it is not integrity that needs questioning, but a serious lack of competence.