McLaren defend FIA transparency amid Red Bull cheating investigation

Red Bull have been deemed guilty by the FIA of having exceeded the 2021 budget cap.

As teams and drivers continue to insist that the FIA award a heavy penalty to Red Bull for exceeding the 2021 budget cap, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has called for the governing body not to be judged until the punishment is announced, labelling it as “too early” to question the FIA’s “transparency”.

Following speculation since the Singapore Grand Prix, it was confirmed last Monday by the FIA that Red Bull had exceeded the 2021 budget cap, by a rumoured £1.8 million.

The Austrians have been found guilty of a ‘minor’ breach of the £114 million budget, which the teams were allowed to spend in 2021 on their cars (except the power units), catering, and their employees (except the top three earners).

With the Constructors’ leaders having exceeded the cap, whilst everyone else remained below it, Red Bull are awaiting their punishment.

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The concern amongst many teams is that the list of potential punishments is extensive, with the FIA being able to award anything from a hefty fine, to a resource reduction, to a session ban, and even possibly a points deduction from 2021.

This does mean Max Verstappen could be stripped of his 2021 championship, but this is believed to be unlikely.

According to reports, Red Bull exceeded the cap due to overspending on catering and employee absences, rather than car development.

Regardless of what the frontrunning side overspent on, most want a heavy penalty to be awarded.

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has already expressed that should the penalty simply be a fine, then the silver arrows will purposefully exceed the cap next season to return to the top.

The FIA have come under increasing fire as of late; however, Brown is actually impressed with how the FIA have handled the situation and for being “clear”.

“I think it’s now all about how (the FIA) handle it moving forward,” Brown told RACER.

“Everyone’s kind of like ‘well, they haven’t had transparency’ but it’s not over yet. I think we can’t judge them on their transparency…it was good that they said ‘it’s not coming on Wednesday, it will come on Monday’ – they were clear.

“Transparency doesn’t necessarily mean ‘I give you all the answers tomorrow,’ it’s ‘I give you visibility of what’s coming’.

“I think we’re not done yet, so I think it’s too early to judge them until we see the final results.”

Unlike other rules, the FIA actually made themselves available in 2021 to any teams who were unsure what was included as part of the budget cap.

It meant teams weren’t left in the dark over whether something was or wasn’t included, as they were able to simply ask the FIA for clarification.

Brown praised the governing body for being “collaborative, communicative and clear”, with the American firmly believing that they are doing a “really good job”.

“Bottom line is we had a dry run for a year,” said the 50-year-old.

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“The FIA have been unbelievably collaborative, communicative and clear. And if anything was unclear then the obligation was on the teams to ask.

“The FIA have done a really good job on the cost cap and you can go to them and ask them anything – ‘is this included, is this not included?’

“And when you go over budget you go over budget, so it needs to be dealt with swiftly and transparently.”