Former Formula 1 driver and Sky Sports commentator, Martin Brundle, feels that the threshold for a minor overspend is too lenient in Formula 1.
In 2019, the FIA ratified the first budget cap in the pinnacle of motorsport, making official a practise that had previously been tried in principle, with little success.
The governing body set the limit at $175 million initially, but due to the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, they lowered it to $145 million.
The teams were required to stay within that figure, and ensure that they documented all of their expenditures.
Earlier in 2022, Williams were fined for a procedural breach when they failed to submit their paperwork in time, and recently, reports indicated that Red Bull and Aston Martin had exceeded the limit.
It was first thought that the Austrian team had gone over by more than five percent, which is $7.25 million, but the FIA confirmed on Monday that they have committed a minor overspend.
They have not yet disclosed what the punishment will be, nor has the exact expenditure been released, but Red Bull issued a statement indicating that they did not feel they breached the regulations.
A report by de Telegraaf indicated that a lot of the overspend was down to feeding employees in Milton Keynes, as well as sick pay, and that the total figure may have been around $147 million.
It is difficult, even with a great number of employees, to see how one can spent an additional $2 million on food in just one year, although there will undoubtedly be other factors that contributed to the overspend too.
The punishment for a minor overspend is generally not thought to consist of an exclusion from the world championship, although there can be a points deduction and a fine.
Regardless, Brundle is perplexed by the five percent threshold, as $7.25 million can turn a championship on its head.
“What seems crazy to me is that a minor breach can be up to five percent overspend on the cost cap at 7 million, we know that’s a massive upgrade on a car, maybe even a B-spec for some teams,” he said on Sky Sports’ Amy Driven Monday show.
“So that needs tightening up for starters, because what’s the point in having 140 million, whatever the number ends up being, and then having this five percent variance?
“So I’m assuming that the FIA will have to crack down hard on any minor breaches, but it looks like it could be a reprimand or a fine, will they want to revisit points, will it be manufacturers points or drivers points for 2021?
“Other teams are saying ‘well look, this gives you a head start into ’22, the cars are carried over for ’23, so this is a big advantage’.
“Now, we know that pretty much all of the teams are gaming this system within their interpretation of the regulations to varying degrees, but quite clearly.
“And it’s quite amazing that this information got out over the Singapore Grand Prix weekend. Where did it come from, and how did it get out? But it does seem that Red Bull have crept over the limit.
“We’re hearing numbers of 1.8 million pounds. Unfortunately, we’re not being told that today. We’ll have to wait and see.
“Christian Horner told me it’s an interpretation issue on a number of items they thought they were under, some things have been included now.
“It’s not it appears the great crime that we were being told by other teams in Singapore, so we now await the news.
“It needs tightening up because the other teams will be under pressure. The team boss will be saying ‘why didn’t you do this? Why don’t you overspend a bit and pay a fine or get a slap on the wrist and go a tenth or two faster?’
“So we need clarity and it needs to be rigid and a five percent variance is way too much.”
The initial idea of the budget cap was to prevent the bigger teams holding such a sizeable financial advantage over the smaller ones, but they must now ensure that no one can swing a championship by breaching the rules.
“I think the concept initially was ‘well at least it’s going to stop the team spending two, three, four hundred million’, that’s been achieved,” explained Brundle.
“But now we’ve got to look at the last few million to get fair across the board and it’s also about keeping the pack closer on the grid, the haves and have nots as it were in terms of the sponsorship and the resource, the facilities they have available to them.
“So, I think fundamentally, it’s been a success, but it’s just the detail now and it’s got to be made clear that you stick to the cost cap or just under it otherwise, it’s going to hurt.”
Brundle also would have liked to see the FIA release the exact sum of Red Bull’s expenditure.
“It’s very disappointing that that information hasn’t been supplied today, remember we’re talking about the 2021 season, not this season,” he stated.
“So, quite why they haven’t been able to get together, now they know the details…
“Presumably there’s some squabbling going on behind the scenes to mitigate this and explain and come up with some reasoning, and it’s thoroughly disappointing that we’ve now had this announcement of what’s happened, but we don’t know the consequences.”
Aston Martin have been found guilty of a procedural breach after errors were spotted in their paperwork.