Red Bull gained ‘zero benefit’ from cost cap breach and penalty is ‘draconian’ – Horner

2022 Mexican Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner described his team’s $7m fine and development time reduction penalty for breaching the 2021 budget cap as “draconian”, and insisted they gained no benefit from over-spending.

The details of Red Bull’s Accepted Breach Agreement with the FIA for a £1.86m overspend of the £118m budget cap for 2021 were confirmed ahead of practice for the Mexican Grand Prix. The team have been fined $7m by the governing body and will have a ten percent reduction of their 2023 wind tunnel and CFD aerodynamic testing allowance until October 2022.

Speaking in a conference following the FIA’s announcement of the Accepted Breach Agreement, Horner described the $7m fine handed to the team after the FIA offered them an agreement following the conclusion of the Japanese Grand Prix as an “enormous” penalty.

“Obviously there was debate about the sanction and the size of the sanction,” said Horner. “It was delayed because of the sad news about Dietrich Mateschitz last weekend, but was concluded early this week where we’ve been provided a significant penalty – both financially and sportingly – from the $7million, which is an enormous amount of money that is payable within a 30 day period.

Horner said that the impact of the penalties the team has accepted will have a significant effect on their car’s performance next season.

“Obviously, the more draconian part is the sporting penalty, which is a 10% reduction in our ability to utilise our wind tunnel and aerodynamic tools,” he said. “That, I’ve heard people reporting today, is an insignificant amount. Let me tell you now, that is an enormous amount.

“That represents anywhere between a quarter and half-a-second’s worth of lap time. That comes in from now – that has a direct effect on next year’s car and will be in place for a 12 month period.”

The reduction means Red Bull, as constructors’ champions, will go from an aerodynamic testing time coefficient of 70% down to just 63%, compared to 75% enjoyed by the team that finishes second in the constructors’ championship this year.

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“By winning the constructors’ championship, obviously, we become victims of our own success,” said Horner.

“In addition to that 10%, having 5% incremental disadvantage or handicap compared to the second and third place [teams]. So just for clarity, we will have 15% less wind tunnel time, then the second place team in the constructors’ championship, and 20% less than the third place. Again, a draconian amount. So that 10% put into reality, as I say, will have impacts on our ability to perform on track, next year.”

Horner dismissed suggestions that his team’s overspend had any impact on the team’s on-track performance in 2021 or this season, where they claimed both world championship titles.

“I stand by the statement there was zero benefit,” said Horner. “Because the amount that we went over that the FIA feel – that £434,000 – we believe there are mitigating factors.

“Now, if we went over because we paid sick pay, if we went over because we paid people that we felt weren’t in the cap in terms of costs within catering, not one penny was spent on the performance of the vehicle. Not one penny was spent on the performance of the car. And I’m astounded that there were no other teams that have found themselves in this position, but good for them that eight of them were fully compliant.

“I think as I say there’s lessons to learn. Did we see any on-track performance? No, we didn’t. Are there things that we could do better from an accounting perspective? Of course, there’s lessons that have been learned. But not just on our side, I think on all sides.”

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2022 Mexican Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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30 comments on “Red Bull gained ‘zero benefit’ from cost cap breach and penalty is ‘draconian’ – Horner”

  1. I guess he has to say it’s draconian but secretly, I’m sure they are pretty relieved. The FIA needs to put a proper, defined penalty structure in place that deters any overspend in the future.

    1. If I were Mercedes, looking at an extra 20mill for beating Ferrari by accidently overspending 2mill, why wouldn’t you? Even after a 7mill fine they’d still come out ahead.

      1. Yeah, it doesn’t seem all that draconical to me either @redearedrabbit, @falken.

        I do expect the FIA will have to get some work done on the procedure of how to define everything, clear more definitions to avoid gray areas, close loopholes etc. as well as making a clearer and more useful penalty structure – 5% is just too high a limit for “minor” infringements (maybe have more levels that start at 0 to 2% etc.).

        I do think that the fact this was the first year does play a factor in the penalty (and how long it took to get there)

  2. I didn’t expect him to say anything different but good grief is he insufferable

    1. He is as are those who are saying the opposite – that a small overspend gave a massive advantage but a 10% reduction in wind-tunnel time is nothing.

      The truth is in the middle – an overspend must have given some sort of benefit and a reduction in wind-tunnel time must be a disadvantage.

      Unfortunately, neither party are going to stop talking about it any time soon.

      1. Yeah, I agree with that. The hyperbole does no one any good.

  3. So far the only team who is suffering from the budget cap is Mercedes. Without millions and millions extra for their cars to spend, they are now best of the rest. A snake has bitten in his own tail.

    1. Meh, they’re overall competitive with ferrari, don’t see how they’ve been hit more.

  4. Excessively harsh. But we’ll accept them. Where do we sign?

    The money is irrelevant to Red Bull. The reduction in aerodynamic development is a good idea. Is it enough to persuade teams to stick to the budget cap in future? Or should it have been harsher still?

  5. They should have reduced their budget cap for next year by 10% as well.

  6. Just stop speaking Horner you are not the victim, every team that complied is.

    1. Quote from Toto.

      1. Oh did he say that? Great minds

  7. Mr. Horner just keeps on lying.

    He continues to state that overspent was just 400k, the figure he has been mentioning also during US GP weekend, despite FIA now clearly stating it was 1.86 M pounds.

    He also claims that RB had gained no advantage, because the entirety of overspent money, which RB did not calculate into their budget cap was on staff leaves and catering. However, apparently all other teams did calculate these expenses into their budget cap, so the only conclusion is that within the budget cap itself Red Bull must have spent 1.86 M or so more on the development of the car, as the other teams had to allocate this money to staff sick leaves and catering services.

    It is not just that he lies, he also apparently doesn´t mind at all to be seen as liar, because the argumentation used is just so weak.

    The fine, as long as it is not taken from the budget cap for this or next year, has no relevance at all. RB has already cashed in several times the value of this fine just because of the WDC & both titles this year.

    As for the wind tunnel/CFD, it all comes down to guessing. People are left to guess whether this 10 % limitation is proportional to the 1.86 M pounds overspent last year. I do not know if it is or not, and in my opinion that cannot be measured.

    In my opinion FIA was in position to set a precedence on the punishment & by doing so also remedy the farcical Abu Dhabi GP. They could have achieved both with a strict sporting penalty which would be justified in this case. They opted not to do that, so the both will continue to haunt F1.

    I do not want to comment on the latter any further, but with regards to the former. The chances that teams will overspent within the 5 % of the cost cap have now significantly increased (especially for the top teams which have no problems with paying fines). For example, when there is a significant rule change, why not overspend in preparation for it, if you reap the benefit in several years to come? Starting the new era on top means you can stop the development of the car earlier, and refocus on the next year already. In this manner, the punishment that RB received will be consumed in this process more easily.

    This is a missed opportunity.

    1. The more interesting part is that apparently they forgot to declare £5.6M… but still had some costcap margin left.

  8. How can they have gained zero benefit?

    If to be under the cap they would have needed to spend less, then something would have to have given. Staff, parts or any other part of running a race team. There would have to have been something they cut back on. And even if they can identify a certain cost that provided no benefit then that either begs the question why spend it or how could they have known before spending it that it would be of no benefit?

    It would be like me being set a time limit for an exam and going 10 minutes over but trying to argue I wasted 10 minutes going in the wrong direction for an answer so had no benefit from that time so it shouldn’t count

    A limit in a competition is a limit and if you go over for any reason then you haven’t competed fairly

  9. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    28th October 2022, 19:46

    I don’t believe Red Bull have a place in the sport especially in view of what transpired in 2021 and 2022. This is no longer Formula 1, this is Red Bull 1. In all honesty, Red Bull forgot to include the salaries of the FIA employees in their tax return cause clearly they are all Red Bull employees at this point.

  10. I can’t say if it’s really draconian. But no one made them agree to the ADR. They could have rejected the plea and gone to trial if they really felt the proffer was unfair.

  11. Lovely to see this page has a bunch of w…nkers who will keep crying in the comments until the end of time.
    They want 2021 stripped from Max but they were ok when the 2 McLaren drivers kept on the fight for REAL CHEATING (possession of other teams’ info).
    Keep your tears coming in the most hypocrite way.

    1. McLaren got a 100 mil fine. Also a lot of the people you say were OK with that were probably like 5 years old at the time lol. You can’t really blame them for poor judgement.

      1. 100 million in 2007 money 🤑

    2. Maybe go do some reading. They received said info but was proven they didn’t use it. So your point is completely void. Try again. *

    3. OmarR “Lovely to see… etc.” You really enjoy reading these comments over and over, to the point of gratification, don’t you? It seems to me that you are the w…nker here.

  12. Zero respect to FIA. Though, it is business as usual since 2021 Abu Dhabi, Alonso penalty-gate in 2022 USA GP and now Red Bull “penalty” that means someone in Red Bull will miss catering.

  13. Seems odd to claim they received no benefit when the result this season was both championships and the most dominant car in F1 history. May be there is some other benefit they were hoping for.

    1. It does seem like a massive coincidence :)

    2. Can’t be the most dominant, blame that on ferrari for wasting lots of wins.

  14. Let’s recap Horner’s statements.
    We didn’t breach the cap and we’re going to take legal action against anyone that said we did.
    We don’t think we breached the cap, but a lot is open to interpretation.
    We might have breached the cap, but it was only a couple hundred thousand over.
    We did breach the cap, by more than a couple hundred thousand, but we gained no advantage from the breach (and now please let us celebrate the WDC, Constructor’s Championship, and 2nd place in the WDC, in peace).

    1. Ahah, indeed, not a good look! What I don’t like is that he said the fine is a massive amount, what? For a team made by multi billionaires?

  15. Horner makes your average corrupt politician seem almost decent by comparison. If I’m Mercedes and Ferrari, I’ll be sure to overspend next year too. The penalty is a joke. If the FIA wants to impose purely financial penalties and not retroactively change driving results, then at least deduct $7m from their 2023 budget AND fine them for every FIA dollar that they earned in 2021 and 2022. This still wouldn’t be enough, but at least their wonderkid keeps his tainted titles.

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