Team bosses at Mercedes and Ferrari have accused Red Bull of overshooting its 2021 cost cap on Max Verstappen’s title-winning campaign. The accusations come among the FIA's expected announcement of any breaches of the cost cap next week. A budget overspend could come with serious championship implications for Red Bull if the overshoot is significantly more than five percent.
A potential breach of the cost cap by Red Bull could reignite conversations surrounding Verstappen’s controversial title victory decided by a mishandled last-lap safety car restart. The consequences for Red Bull could also be severe if the budget overshoot is significant enough, including fines, penalties, and exclusion from the championship altogether. According to ESPN, Ferrari and Mercedes team bosses call the Red Bull accusations “an open secret.”
There are three categories of potential penalties: financial penalty, minor sporting penalty, and material sporting penalty. A minor penalty is a public reprimand, loss of championship points for constructors and drivers, aerodynamic testing limitations, suspension from races, and a reduction to that team’s particular cost cap. A material penalty can include all of this and exclusion from championships.
The budget cap for 2021 was set at $145M and reduced to $140M for 2022. For Red Bull to have a material breach of the cost cap regulations, it would have to overspend by over $7 million. Aston Martin is understood to have not exceeded this, though the FIA released a statement clarifying its procedure and calling all 2021 budget cap speculation “significant and unsubstantiated.”
It is not clear if Verstappen’s 2021 title is under threat if Red Bull did overshoot the cap. A significant portion of the 2021 budget also went to the development of the 2022 car. Aston Martin is also rumored to be the second team to have overspent in 2021.
The FIA is expected to announce its analysis of all F1 team's 2021 finances next week.