The budget (or cost) cap in Formula 1 was introduced in 2021 in a bid to make the sport more sustainable and level the playing field between the teams a little. But it is understood that both Red Bull and Aston Martin did not stay within the cost cap set for last year, with the former believed to be a more serious case of “material breach”.
The penalty -5% over the 2021 cap limit- could be the exclusion of the teams found at fault could consist in the exclusion from last year’s world championship. But Capito declared that such breach in 2021 would have influenced in the development for the current season’s car.
“I think there's no way around not staying in the cost cap,” the German told Motorsport.com.
“And if somebody doesn't stay in the cost cap, it has to have serious implications. Because not having stayed in the cost cap last year is most likely development for this year's car.
“For this year's cars, you have an impact for the whole season. So it has to have a sportive impact on this season. It doesn't make sense to have any financial penalty on top that you spent the money.
“That would be completely contradictory to work to the rules. And for me, it's a more serious breach than cheating on the car on the track,” said Capito.
Williams team boss also stated that a retrospective punishment would not necessarily affect the gains earned in the development for 2022.
"I don't think it should be for last year, because most of the more impact is on this year. I think it would be completely wrong to do it on last year, because the books are written, everything is done, the PR is done, the marketing is done.
“So if that would be the case, then I think nobody would stay in the cost cap anymore, because it has an impact on the past. It has to have an impact on the actual year. And that's why I think the FIA, if there is a case, they have to be quite fast.
“I don't have any other choice, they have to react because the majority of the teams was in the cost cap. And they can't be penalised for being in the cost cap. So I'm pretty sure they will react appropriately,” declared the German.
But Capito is not the only team boss that weighed in on the issue, Alfa Romeo’s chief Fred Vasseur insists in the fact that the financial transgression should be treated as a technical infringement.
“I think, from my point of view, the cost cap was crucial for F1,” Vasseur said.
“I know it was a great achievement to put it in place. But now that it's in place, the most important thing is to police it. And for sure there is no room for flexibility.
“I think that we have to be very strict with this. You can be disqualified from a race for 0.9mm of front flap deflection, as we were two years ago. If you are 300g under the weight, you are excluded.
“And, on the other hand, if you can spend millions for updates for X races, it's completely unfair. If something like this happened, for sure the FIA will have to take action.
“You have to understand that sometimes with €200,000 you can bring a big update. And if you overshoot the budget by this, it's a couple of tenths for more than one race,” declared the Frenchman.
Otmar Szafnauer, who ran Aston Martin last year but left before official numbers were submitted and is now Alpine team principal, agreed that teams who go over the budget cap could gain significant benefits.
“At the margin, any spend above the margin is spent on performance,” Szafnauer added.
“And once you start spending on performance where others don't get a chance to, because they've actually stuck to the budget cap, that's serious.
“And I think the FIA have to appropriately punish those who have gone over. You have to first understand how big the breach was, and then what an appropriate penalty is.”
Szafnauer declared that Alpine, team who respected the cost cap had made significant sacrifices to do so.
“The team here made some significant decisions on letting people go, not hiring other people, before the start of this year, based on last year's spend,” he said.
“And that's significant. And, once you let people go, it's hard to get them back and attract the same people.
“And once you stop development, because you're going to be over the budget cap, and you stop it so that you assure yourself that you're under, getting that development and that learning back in a quicker time than others are learning, it's nearly impossible.
“So that's what I mean by we have to understand the gravity of the breach, and have appropriate ramifications.
“If, for example, you've gained by doing more windtunnel testing, then you should have perhaps an appropriate punishment, like restricting their windtunnel testing the following year. It's that kind of stuff,” said Otmar.
Another team boss who weighed in was Haas’ Guenther Steiner, who also stressed that penalties should be tough, even if last year’s championship concluded over nine months ago.
"When we had to turn in our accounting, that was one of the things which was discussed,” Steiner told Motorsport.com.
“So how do you deal with it, if someone breached it, a year after?
“It was always going to happen. But in the end, if you now take the world championship result away from last year, who cares?
“The only thing will be the financial benefit they had by being in a certain position. If they are disqualified, everybody else who is behind them will be laughing. And that's where we are.
“I mean, if you breach it, and the regulations say that the penalty needs to be this one, that needs to be this one, because in the end we are talking about money.”