This weekend’s first Japanese Grand Prix since 2019 has been massively overshadowed by what is set to be announced on Monday, with the FIA having said that after this weekend they’ll be awarding certificates of approval to teams who kept below the 2021 budget cap.
Monday’s announcement has the potential to lead to the biggest scandal in the history of the sport, following reports that Red Bull and Aston Martin have been found guilty of having exceeded the 2021 budget.
This could have enormous repercussions for both teams, with the range of possible penalties being extensive.
Last season saw the introduction of the budget cap, a fee that every team in the paddock had to stay below in order to close up the pack and make for a more financially fair playing field.
The budget of £114 million, was for any component to do with the car, excluding the engine.
Essentially, any upgrades non-power unit related would’ve come out of that budget.
Based on this, should Red Bull and Aston Martin have actually exceeded last season’s budget, then it means that there is a very high chance they used parts during the year which were developed using ‘illegal’ money.
If Red Bull in particular have exceeded the budget, then it will throw further controversy into Max Verstappen’s 2021 title, with the legitimacy of it likely to be questioned ever more.
For the teams who did exceed the 2021 budget, then the penalty awarded to them by the FIA could range from a hefty fine, to a resource reduction, and even a points deduction from 2021.
Whilst unlikely, it does mean Verstappen might be stripped of his 2021 Drivers’ Championship.
Lando Norris wants any team found guilty to be awarded a “hefty penalty”, joining the likes of Sir Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc who have called for a heavy penalty to be awarded.
“Of course,” answered Norris, when asked if a heavy penalty should be awarded.
“I think because teams are trying to find and trying to be as efficient as possible with every single thing that they do, any small amount over is, in any part of Formula One, maybe not huge, but depending on what it is, a big advantage.
“Considering there has been such a rule implied to make things a bit more comparable for everyone, give all teams a better chance at fighting, then it’s just an unfair stat within the performance of Formula One. There should be a pretty hefty penalty for whoever does cross the line.”
McLaren were one of the teams who massively benefitted from the budget cap last season, due to the frontrunners being unable to spend more, legally at least.
Daniel Ricciardo famously won the 2021 Italian Grand Prix with Norris in second, in what was a season that saw the Woking-based side take a huge stride towards becoming a frontrunning team again.
“I think for us, it suited us very well in where we were performing and the budget that we had relative to the bigger teams,” added the Brit.
“For those bigger teams it has been about choosing where to place that budget into, whether it’s more performance or aero or design – all of this stuff.
“It’s not just literally a direct performance impact on track, there can be many other ways around it, which you can benefit and the thing is, it doesn’t just benefit you for one single season.
“If it helps you in that first one to get going, it’s always kind of a knock-on effect the next few years.
“If it is true, I don’t know what is true or not, but if it is true then yes, it can help someone focus more last year if that’s the case, and then put more people, more development on this year.
“If you can start a new era off on the right foot, then it’s only going to keep you ahead for a good amount of years until kind of everyone starts to catch up, especially so early on, then it would make a big difference.”