Another day, more dramatic news and rumours in the F1 Paddock.
This time, we need to talk about the breaches of the certificates of compliance regarding last year’s budget cap.
It seems like there are 2 teams at fault: Red Bull and Aston Martin. If one of them is believed to have exceeded the limit by a small amount of money (Aston Martin), the other is definitely not in the same position (Red Bull). Mercedes’ team principal Toto Wolff commented:
“Yeah, all of us have been investigated diligently. And as far as we understand there’s a team in minor breach which is more precidural, and another team that is fundamentally massively over and that is being still looked after. That’s an open secret in the paddock.”
As the money used to develop a car largely influences the performance and the ability to fight for the championship, this is not an ideal situation. Especially in Red Bull’s case, as penalties vary from fines to an exclusion from the championship should they be found guilty.
"The cost cap is probably the most important evolution of regulations in order to keep a level playing field and to allow teams that haven't got the full budget to catch up and to put the ceiling onto the spending of the top teams. So, it is of huge importance for a demonstration that these regulations are policed.”
Wolff has full faith in the process and will wait for the final decision:
"The FIA, particularly Mohammed, have shown a pretty robust stance on enforcing all kinds of regulations. So I think if we're talking now about something big, he will show the same integrity and leadership that he's done before.”
“I think there’s a governance in place that is very solid, that the FIA have set up. You’re gonna to be issued a certificate of compliance. If you’re not compliant, it goes to this so called Cost Cap Adjudication Panel with independent judges, and they can then choose from these penalties the appropriate one. But the crucial part is that if you’ve been over in 2021, then you’re been over in 2022. That means you have an advantage into 2023. If it’s true they have homologated a lightweight chassis this year, they may use it next year. It’s a real cascade of events that can be influential in all of the three championships.”
The Mercedes Team Principal is not the only one with full confidence in Ben Sulayem and the FIA, Andreas Seidl has also commented:
"It is clear that in terms of the financial regulations, similar to the technical and sporting regulations, good governance and policing are in place because the integrity of the sport is the most important thing"
"We have a lot of faith in the new president of the FIA and his team, seeing the rigour with which they investigated the budget cap on our side.We trust them to make the right judgement. It is also important to have proper penalties in place so the cap works as intended."
The result of the 2021 championship is still a bitter pill to swallow for Mercedes, and the possibility that an already shoking win could have been helped by a large amount of money that should not have been used, is serious business.
“That’s heavy weight. That’s massively heavy weight. We are using used parts, we are not running what people would want to run, we are not developing what we could be developing. We have made more than 40 people redundant that are dearly missed in our organisation and it was a huge mammoth project to make the cap. I don’t know how many tens and millions we had to restructure, reprocess in order to be below the cap and if someone has been not doing that or pushing the boundaries, every million is a massive disadvantage.”
But if Red Bull is to be found guilty, what could be the right remedy? Would the Mercedes’ boss push for a revision of the 2021 result?
“No I think it’s not up to me to charge and that’s not realistic up to me to judge what the penalties could be, the charges, all that scope to analyse, but I would not want to be in their position, because of the impact it had for almost three years.”