Red Bull accuses F1 rivals of ‘concerted campaign’ over budget cap ruling

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Red Bull has accused its rivals of waging a “concerted campaign for a draconian penalty” for breaching Formula 1’s budget cap.

Team principal Christian Horner said “what’s at stake is a couple of hundred thousand dollars” in the team’s 2021 delivery.

The FIA ​​governing body has offered Red Bull what is known as an infringement agreement that spells out the penalty.

Horner said Red Bull was talking about it and “wanted to close it in 2021”.

Details of the FIA ​​bid have not been made public.

Horner’s comments follow a letter last week from McLaren Racing chief executive Zak Brown, first reported by BBC Sport, in which he said Red Bull breaking the $145m (£114m) cap in 2021 was “fraudulent”.

Horner is also angry about the interviews between Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff and his Ferrari counterpart Mattia Binotto at the Singapore Grand Prix last month, when the Red Bull rift became public.

Red Bull has been found guilty of a “juvenile” and “procedural” breach of financial regulations. “Minor” violations can be any amount up to 5% of the cap, or $7.25 million in 2021.

Horner said the 5% window and the number of possible penalties listed in the regulations “have contributed to a concerted campaign for Red Bull to be severely penalized because we’re taking what’s probably in dispute at the end. The FIA ​​is a couple of hundred thousand dollars.”

He added: “What has been incredibly disappointing is the spillover that has happened. Suddenly we are being judged and subjected to three weeks of effective abuse. And then to see a letter accusing us of fraud and deceit, it is not right, and this has to stop.”

Horner said he was “appalled by the behavior of some of our competitors”, adding that the children of Red Bull employees had been bullied on school playgrounds.

“For a competitor to be accused of cheating, to be accused of fraudulent activity is absolutely amazing,” he said. “Without any facts or details to make such an allegation.

“We’ve been prosecuted for public accusations from Singapore. The rhetoric of fraud, that we’ve had this huge benefit, numbers that are miles away from reality have been released in the media at the time. The damage it does to the brand, and the numbers that are in the media have been released in the media. To pour out partners, to our drivers to our employees.”

Horner said Red Bull hoped to resolve talks with the FIA ​​before the end of the US Grand Prix weekend, but could not say whether that would be possible.

He said that if they did not reach a breach agreement with the FIA, the matter would go to the sport’s cost cap tribunal and possibly the FIA ​​appeals court.

“It could be out for another six or nine months,” Horner said. “It is not our intention.”

Horner said a clarification of the rules in June – three months after teams had to hand in their final accounts for 2021 to the FIA ​​- had changed the way unused parts were assessed under the limit and “had a seven-digit impact on our submission”.

Sitting alongside him at a press conference, Brown and Williams team principal Jost Capito said they were both unaffected, with Brown saying the FIA ​​process had been “pretty thorough, pretty detailed and very manageable”.

Horner said: “We had zero benefit from a development or operational perspective in 2021 or 2022 from the way we operated at the cap.

“Our presentation was significantly below the limit, we hoped to clarify or question some things, as is the process in a new set of regulations. But in professional accounting, according to external third parties, the expectations to control this were very clear. in our favor.”

He added: “Once this situation is over, there will be complete transparency and I will explain to you the reasons behind our submission and why we felt that each line item that has been questioned is objectionable.

“The whole thing must be transparent. There will be no private and secret deals. Everything will be absolute.”

Up and down the paddock, there is a consensus among rivals that Red Bull should face a substantial penalty for breaching, to serve as a warning to all teams for the future, otherwise the cost cap will be ineffective.

A high-profile insider told BBC Sport that he believed Red Bull should be kicked out of the constructors’ championship in 2021 and 2022, losing all of its prize money.

Another said that if Red Bull proved difficult with the FIA ​​and tried to hide expenses, Max Verstappen should lose the 2021 drivers’ title, which he won in controversial circumstances after a close battle with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. last season’s race.

Neither is considered a likely event. It is expected that the likely outcome will be that Red Bull will receive a large fine, in the millions of dollars, and a reduction in the aerodynamic research and development allowed next year.