Red Bull has been judged guilty of breaking the Formula 1 cost cap in 2021 during Max Verstappen’s charge to his first world championship.
Today’s delayed announcement, originally expected before the Japanese Grand Prix, confirms the Milton Keynes-based team was in breach of budget limitations that are central to the foundations by which modern F1 is regulated.
The FIA, motorsport’s governing body, hasn’t revealed by how much Red Bull exceeded the cost cap, set last year at $145 million (£114m), but described the offence as “minor”. That indicates the breach is in the lower of two categories set out in the regulations, to the tune of less than 5% or $7.25m (£2.49m).
The team, which finished second in the constructors’ standings to Mercedes-AMG last year, has also been found to have committed what is known as a “procedural” breach for the late submission of files, an offence that Aston Martin has also been found guilty of.
No penalty has yet been announced for either team. The FIA said it was “currently determining appropriate action”.
A range of penalties for Red Bull are possible: a reprimand, a deduction of drivers’ and/or constructors’ championship points, suspension from competition, increased limitations on aerodynamic testing and a reduction of the team’s future cost cap.
Earlier this year, Williams was found guilty of a procedural breach and was fined £25,000 (£22,600).
The confirmation of the FIA’s findings follows in the wake of stringent denials by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner at both the Singapore and Japanese GPs that the team had committed a breach of the budget cap.
Red Bull has responded to the FIA’s statement, saying: “We note the findings by the FIA of ‘minor overspend breaches of the financial regulations’ with surprise and disappointment.
“Our 2021 submission was below the cost cap limit, so we need to carefully review the FIA’s findings as our belief remains that the relevant costs are under the 2021 cost cap amount.
“Despite the conjecture and positioning of others, there is of course a process under the regulations with the FIA which we will respectfully follow while we consider all the options available to us.”
The findings will fire F1 into a controversy and potential crisis that Red Bull’s critics, including rivals Mercedes-AMG and Ferrari, will claim seriously undermines not only Verstappen’s first world title, gained last year, but also his second, which was confirmed in confusing circumstances at Suzuka on Sunday.