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We have learned, says Ben Sulayem of budget cap policing

NEWS STORY
08/12/2022

FIA president, Mohammed ben Sulayem is confident the sport's governing body has learned following this year's budget cap saga.

While 2021 was the first year of the much-anticipated and highly controversial cap, it wasn't until this year that the analysis got underway.

While Williams was hit with an early $25,000 fine for a "procedural breach", it was another couple of months when things got really interesting.

Reports in the German media claimed that Red Bull and Aston Martin had both exceeded the cap, and in terms of the Austrian outfit it was said that the breach had been significant. So much so that there was talk on social media (where else?) of the 2021 titles being handed to Mercedes.

Whilst the FIA sought to calm the situation, Mercedes and Ferrari - both of whom were being soundly beaten on track by Red Bull - wasted no time in pouring gasoline on the smouldering fire.

Red Bull threatened to sue all and sundry for the malicious claims whilst the FIA made us wait and wait and wait on its official report.

Eventually, Aston Martin was fined $450,000 for "incorrectly excluded and/or adjusted costs", while Red Bull was hit with a $7m fine and a - far more damaging - 10% reduction in its windtunnel time which was already limited due to the rules that penalise the successful teams.

While Mercedes, Ferrari and others insisted that the penalty didn't reflect the crime, Red Bull continued to question who might have leaked the story to the German media. As if on cue, and no doubt totally unrelated, the FIA announced that Shaila-Ann Rao, former general counsel for Mercedes and special advisor to Toto Wolff, was no longer its interim secretary general and is leaving the FIA at the end of the season.

Though many see the whole affair as a complete mess and embarrassment for sport, fearing that it will never be able to fully and successfully police the cap, Ben Sulayem remains confident.

"We learned a lot and a big review is going into it," he tells Motorsport.com. "Who knows in the first year what is going to be the outcome? We didn't even expect it.

"If you look at the other teams, they will say we have been light on them," he said of Red Bull. "And the penalty? Some of them want them to be hanged and they want to see blood. The (penalised) teams themselves see it as huge on them, so where do you draw that?

"We have to be fair also. Do we want to get rid of them, or do we want them to be straightened up and not do it?"

With the teams having submitted their details in March, one of the main criticisms is why it took until much later in the year before the findings could be revealed.

"The only thing I would say is what we did in September/October, it should be done early," he admits. "But as the first year we learned a lot from it and we're still learning, so it is better to come in May, not in October.

"The financial regulation has been the first year, policing it is very hard," he adds. "That's why we have discussed also employees, three more in the financial side, three more in the chassis and the PU. If you don't have the manpower and the proper people to police it, what's the use of having this regulation? So more recruitment is coming ahead."

In conclusion he insists: "I believe that there was a balance between finance and also the sporting penalties there."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by CL, 09/12/2022 10:59

"I have a feeling some people would be better off following the purity of F2 or F3 and leaving F1 to be the insane circus of intrigue, sniping, politics and PR that it has always been. Probably be better for the blood pressure."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Max Noble, 08/12/2022 1:43

"@Simon in Adelaide - excellent suggestions! Let’s get drive to survive working on it now!

@spindoctor - no chance of that! They love digging in deeper and deeper…!"

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3. Posted by Spindoctor, 07/12/2022 12:28

"Message to FIA regarding Cost Cap:

When you're down a hole, stop digging...

Message ends"

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4. Posted by Simon in Adelaide, 07/12/2022 1:04

"@ Max,

Just to while away the winter, perhaps to go with the Drivers Championship and the Constructors Championship there could be whole host of other 'Championships' to compete for such as:

Team Principal - The longest whinge
Pit Crew - The fastest engine change
Engine Team - The least oil burned
Accountants - The most expenses hidden

I am sure there are others."

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5. Posted by Max Noble, 06/12/2022 23:39

"Classic! So at least six more accountants to police it for the coming year… the FIA is becoming a self licking lollipop! Make up new rules… recruit to monitor, recruit more…. More rules… continued recruitment…. Not unlike the vast army Liberty Media use to perform the job Bernie completed on his own…

…and the impact on track of all these accountants….? Quite…"

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