Helmut Marko spills the beans on FIA penalty over Cashgate Scandal

Last season, Red Bull were found guilty of breaching the 2021 cost cap.

With the gap between the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull and the midfield teams becoming increasingly larger, Formula 1 decided to introduce a cost cap in 2021.

This cap of $145m per season limits how much a team can spend every year, stopping the likes of Mercedes from blowing smaller teams like Williams out of the water financially.

The F1 world was shocked last season to find out the Red Bull had been found guilty of a minor breach of the 2021 cost cap, the season which Max Verstappen narrowly beat Lewis Hamilton to his first drivers’ championship.

There were cries at the time for Verstappen to be stripped of his maiden championship but with Red Bull’s breach being categorised as ‘minor’, this did not happen.

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Red Bull were instead fined $7m and had ten percent of their wind tunnel testing time for 2023 taken away, hindering the team significantly.

Red Bull’s chief advisor Helmut Marko has now opened up on this penalty from the team’s perspective, explaining that Red Bull found out about the punishment early enough to prepare for it.

“The penalty was announced to us relatively early. Around Singapore, it crystallised and we knew it was going to cost us,” he told Servus TV.

“So, fairly early on, we focused on evolving and optimising what may not have been ideal on the old car like reducing weight.

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“If we brought something to test in the wind tunnel, it had to work the first time ideally. I think we succeeded judging by the result.”

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Marko’s explanation suggests that rather than designing a new car for 2023, Red Bull simply decided to use their limited testing time to evolve the RB18 into a better car.

This plan has worked perfectly as the RB19 dominated the first race weekend of the 2023 season, with a front row lockout in qualifying converted into a one-two finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

No team currently looks capable of challenging Red Bull, leaving the team in pole position to retain both of their championship titles this year.