Red Bull are looking set to battle their supposed ‘minor’ 2021 budget cap breach to the bitter end, as team boss Christian Horner has reportedly attempted to make a “counter-offer” in regard to their punishment.
To quickly recap, the day after Max Verstappen claimed his second consecutive World Championship, it was announced by the FIA that the Austrians had been found guilty of a ‘minor’ breach of the $145 million 2021 budget cap.
The vast majority of reports believe that the frontrunning side exceeded the 2021 cap by around $1.8 million, with various reasons proposed as to how they overspent.
These proposed reasons range from an overspend on catering, to chief technology officer Adrian Newey’s wage.
Until the FIA release the financial reports and are transparent, something the paddock has demanded, people can only guess how Red Bull breached the cap; however, regardless of what they overspent on, they still effectively “cheated”.
Ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown wrote to the FIA and suggested that very thing himself, without naming the Austrians.
Drivers and teams have rallied together against Red Bull and have demanded that the FIA award a heavy penalty to the Constructors’ leaders.
Red Bull were actually set to hold a ‘Cashgate’-related press conference on Friday at the Circuit of the Americas, but this was cancelled as team boss Christian Horner was unable to meet FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.
The pair did eventually meet, though, ahead of the weekend, with Auto Motor und Sport reporting that Horner attempted to make a “counter-offer”, after supposedly knowing what Red Bull’s punishment is.
According to AMuS’ Michael Schmidt and de Telegraaf’s Erik van Harren, a range of punishments are being considered by the governing body and the independent panel who are overlooking the scandal.
It’s believed that a 25-percent wind tunnel reduction is the punishment offered to Red Bull as part of the FIA’s “accepted breach agreement”, which was given to the Austrians to accept or reject.
Red Bull accepting these terms is seriously unlikely, with the team already set for less wind tunnel time than anybody else, due to the sliding scale which was introduced last year.
The scale sees the lower sides given more wind tunnel time than those at the front, with teams being awarded their time allotment based on their Constructors’ position.
A fine is the other likely option but would result in huge backlash from the entire paddock, especially Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.
Wolff has previously mentioned that if only a fine is awarded, then Mercedes will overspend purposefully in 2023 to get themselves back to the front and then happily pay their penalty fine afterwards.