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Rivals hit out at leniency over Red Bull budget breach


Toto Wolff and Zak Brown were among the first to criticise the punishment meted out to Red Bull for its breach of the budget cap, claiming that the FIA has been lenient.

For the breach, which Red Bull agues it only accepted "for the good of the sport", the Austrian team is fined $7m, but more importantly faces a restriction on aerodynamic testing time.

With the fine not forming part of the team's 2023 budget, rivals feel the FIA has effectively merely given the world champions a slap on the wrist.

"I think as for any penalty, for us, it's too little," said Toto Wolff. "For them, it will be too much."

However, he admitted...

"Any reduction in wind tunnel time is going to be detrimental. How detrimental is difficult to judge at this stage.

"I think in absolute terms, $7m is a lot of money," he continued. "But maybe in the bigger scheme of things for Red Bull, considering the investment they do on the power unit side and on the team, it's not."

Looking ahead, the Austrian hopes the punishment will be a deterrent for future offenders.

"I think that the sum of the penalties is a deterrent, the sporting penalty, and to a lesser degree, the financial fine. But reputational damage that is happening is probably the biggest thing, and no team will want to come anywhere near that, because obviously, we are living in a transparent and compliant world. Our shareholders or our partners demand compliance, and in that respect that's just not on anymore."

Asked about Christian Horner's explanation of how his team exceeded the cap, Wolff replied: "Nine teams complied with the regulations and stayed below the cap. This is a sport of marginal gains, and everything else is just chatter. There's no mitigating factor.

"What I take as a positive is the strong governance," he said of the FIA. "Nothing was brushed under the carpet. The FIA stood by the process. And I think that although the administration has only been in place for ten months, it's very encouraging to see things executed.

"That's the really positive of the process. Mohammed, with a strong group of individuals, Federico (Lodi, the FIA's head of financial regulations), Shaila Ann (Rao, the interim secretary general for sport - and Wolff's former consultant) and Nikolas (Tombazis), ensured that the assessment and the policing of the cost cap was robust. And that is what I take as a positive out of the whole process.

"What we need to tidy up is the minor and major breaches. I think a breach is a breach. And that's how it should be handled."

"We appreciate the cost cap investigation is a complex process which the FIA have conducted in a thorough and transparent manner," said Zak Brown. "I'm pleased the truth is out there now and it is the result is as we expected, there was a breach of the cost cap by one team, with the other nine operating in line with the rules.

"It is therefore only right that punitive action is taken," he added. "If the FIA is to be most effective and its punishments serve as a lesson to others when rules are broken in this way, the sanctions have to be much stronger in the future.

"We hope that the lessons learned through this process will now mean all teams have a clear understanding of the rules in order to avoid any future breaches. While we are pleased to see them act, we would hope the FIA take stronger action in future against those that wilfully break the rules."

However, Brown's colleague, team boss, Andreas Seidl, believes the FIA didn't go far enough.

Asked if he had listened to Christian Horner's explanation, the German replied: "No, I didn't listen to it because I can imagine it was another fairy tale, probably. I'm not really interested in that.

"In the end, on a positive side I think it's good to see the FIA did a good job in terms of doing the audit," he told Sky Sports. "Nine teams got it right and it was clear one team was in breach, so that's a positive outcome.

"But on a negative side, it's also clear, from my point of view, that the penalty doesn't fit the breach. I just hope moving forward we have stricter penalties in place."

Asked if he expects any repeats, he said: "There's absolutely no reason to be in breach this year. We had good discussions earlier this year with all teams, the FIA and F1 regarding these topics.

"That's why the cap was adjusted and it was also made clear from all teams and the FIA's side that there is absolutely no reason, after this positive decisions in the interests of the sport, that there is any breach at the end of the year.

"I just hope if there is any breach, it ends up being appropriate penalties."

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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 31/10/2022 15:51

"As predicted, nobody is happy with the outcome. Arguing over "major" or "minor" is, like resistance to the Borg, futile.

Christian can now dry his crocodile tears & give RBR's Accountants the kick up the fundament they clearly deserve for being less competent than those employed elsewhere."

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2. Posted by kenji, 31/10/2022 4:37

"@ Defiant... Have you considered this.... Wolff claims that as little as '$500K can cover an upgrade of signifant effect, maybe one tenth. Fining RB $7M would cover fourteen upgrades plus a significant loss of 'wind tunnel' time which is , uber important in these aero driven times? I don't think their penalty was in any way lenient. The problem is that Wolff and Brown, a Mercedes customer, have ramped up their criticism and desire for penalties that just fall short of execution by firing squad. All they've done is fan the flames of dissent at, unfortunately, no cost. As I 've said before I'd love to see a couple of defamation suits filed and then we'd see some clarification of where their justification really lies. To accuse Red Bull of 'cheating' is not a benign claim especially to a brand like Red Bull. "

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3. Posted by Defiant, 29/10/2022 19:59

"It was lenient, I'm not surprised that other teams are unhappy. The FIA are a shambles as is F1. Toto is right though, at least it's out in the open, unlike 2019 and the red cheats."

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4. Posted by Chris Roper, 29/10/2022 19:32

"At the Minimum the fine should have come out of next years cost cap but in reality, as the offence was committed in the last season so the penalty should be in that season.

Loss of Points would have been the only fair and effective penalty.

As Martin Brundel said, "The FIA have had no Idea what they are doing since Charly Whiting died." "

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5. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 29/10/2022 10:52

"Not sure where the RBR fine goes, but I would have made the fine $9 million and shared it out equally with the other teams, $1 million each, this would be added to the cost cap already in place."

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