The Singapore Grand Prix earlier this year brought with it the rumours that Red Bull and Aston Martin had breached the 2021 cost cap of $145mn, which was introduced to try and bring the field closer together.
While Aston Martin were only found guilty of a procedural breach, Red Bull were found to have made a minor breach of the cost cap and were fined $7m alongside their 2022 wind tunnel testing time being reduced by ten percent.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown was outrages by Red Bull’s wrongdoing, labelling anyone who breaches the cost cap as ‘cheats’ in a letter he penned directly to the FIA.
Brown has now spoken out about his letter, hinting that he believes that Red Bull’s excuse of overspending on staff hospitality and catering doesn’t hold up.
“I stand by my letter… I know it’s such a strong word, but I don’t see any difference between breaking the financial cap versus having too low of a ride height, or whatever the case may be,” explained the McLaren CEO.
“I thought there were things that didn’t make sense. We all have to take care of our employees.
“We have our employees coming to us sating this team does this, this team does this on per diems, this team does this on food, this team does this on hotels. That then puts you in a competitive position when you are hiring and retaining.
“So I think to kind of single out, ‘this is where we spend more money,’ collectively, if that was pushed in the cap, then you’re spending less money somewhere else. I think it all goes into performance. I don’t think you can kind of have isolated selected elements and say it was this part that was out of the cap.”
Brown had previously suggested that his comments were not because he wanted Red Bull specifically to receive a harsher punishment, but because he believes that a failure to deter future breaches would call the integrity of the sport into question.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has suggested that while the sporting penalty of a reduction in testing time will have a significant impact on the team, he thinks that the reputational damage done to the Red Bull will be the biggest deterrent to other teams.
Christian Horner has suggested that the team’s penalty could cost them up to half a second in lap time, meaning that should they wish to retain their championship in 2023, they will have to overcome a significant disadvantage.