After Red Bull's breach, what happens next in F1’s cost cap saga?

After much speculation and off-track feuding, there is finally some clarity following the FIA’s long-awaited F1 cost cap review - but what will happen next?
(L to R): Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing
(L to R): Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing

Monday’s statement by F1’s governing body confirmed that Red Bull were the only team guilty of not complying with last season’s $145 spending limit. 

Red Bull were found in “minor” breach of F1’s financial regulations during Max Verstappen’s maiden title-winning campaign, meaning they exceeded the cap by less than 5 per cent, or $7.25m.

Both Red Bull and Aston Martin were also found to have made a procedural error, relating to the failure to fill in forms correctly. 

Earlier this year, Williams were found guilty of a similar procedural breach and were subsequently fined $25,000. 

The remaining seven teams - Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Alpine, AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo and Haas - were all issued with certificates of compliance by the FIA. 

With Red Bull noting the FIA’s findings with “surprise and disappointment” - and uncertainty lingering over what penalties could be handed out.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR22. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 17, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR22. Formula 1 World…

What are Red Bull’s options? 

What follows is likely to be a long and drawn-out phase of the process. 

Red Bull and Aston Martin now have the possibility of either appealing against the FIA’s ruling, or the opportunity to enter into a ‘settlement agreement’ with the sport’s governing body. 

If they were to accept their wrongdoing, the FIA’s Cost Cap Administration would impose a penalty it deems appropriate. 

The Accepted Breach Agreement (ABA) would come with a milder form of punishment. This would rule out a points deduction or a reduction in the cost cap, leaving only a public reprimand, suspension from one or more stages of a competition, or limitations on aerodynamic or other testing. 

Crucially, by going down this avenue, the ruling cannot be challenged by a rival team. 

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB18. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 18, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan,
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB18. Formula 1 World Championship,…

However, if a settlement agreement is not reached, the case would go on to the Cost Cap Adjudication Panel - formed of between six and 12 independent judges - who would hear the details of the case and determine whether the party was guilty or not, and what penalty should be imposed. 

Teams could take the matter to the FIA’s international court of appeal if they were still not happy with the outcome. 

Red Bull have continued to express confidence in their submission, and the firm wording of their statement, coupled with the defence launched by Christian Horner, hints that the team is considering challenging the verdict.

But the Milton Keynes-based outfit added that “despite the conjecture and positioning of others” they will “respectfully follow” the process set out by the FIA’s regulations. 

What are the potential punishments? 

A “minor” breach of the cost cap could result in a financial penalty and/or minor sporting penalties. 

Full details of what penalties could be handed out can be found here.

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