Red Bull are guilty of a “minor” overspend of the 2021 $145m budget, estimated at $1-2m. But what exactly could they afford with that extra money?

Is Hamilton No Longer the Best Wet Weather Driver?

‘A new floor or adapted wing’ - $300,000

Ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton claimed that extra spending from Mercedes could have changed the outcome of the 2021 title race.

Mercedes’ last major upgrade arrived at the British Grand Prix in July, while Red Bull continued to develop up until the controversial title finale at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“If we had, if we spent $300,000 on a new floor or an adapted wing it would have changed the outcome of the championship, naturally, because we would have been in better competition in the next race you had it on,” Hamilton told Sky.

A new chassis - around $1m 

F1 chassis are notoriously expensive, even more so when they have to replace them. 

Mick Schumacher has crashed heavily on three occasions during F1 2022.

The German shunted his Haas in Saudi Arabia, Monaco and more recently, in Japan.

For a team like Haas, who are understood to be well under the cost cap, a new chassis isn’t a cheap investment.

Steiner said after Schumacher’s crash in Jeddah: “Between gearbox, the whole bodywork is gone, radiator ducts are gone, so it’s between half a million and a million I would say.”

Crash damage - more than $1.8m

Crash damage can be a big explanation to why a team would potentially breach the cost cap, even if the damage is out of their control.

Let’s take Max Verstappen as an example.

He crashed heavily late on in Baku after his tyres failed, through no fault of his own.

Verstappen was crashed out of the F1 British Grand Prix by Hamilton, costing Red Bull around $1.8m.

The Dutchman (and teammate Sergio Perez) sustained significant damage in Hungary, caused by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.

Both incidents were caused by Mercedes drivers, but Red Bull would have been forced to cover the costs.

Verstappen collided with Hamilton again at Monza, although on this occasion, it was arguably his own fault.

While teams have to factor this into their yearly budgets, some crashes are completely avoidable, and in Verstappen’s case, were mostly not his fault.

Lightweight chassis - around $2m

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff revealed that introducing a new lightweight chassis would have put the team $2m above the F1 cost cap.

Red Bull were expected to introduce their own lightweight chassis during the latter part of this season, but decided against it.

Wolff admitted in Singapore that Mercedes simply couldn’t afford to do so.

“We haven't produced lightweight parts for the car in order to bring us down from a double digit overweight because we simply haven't got the money. So we need to do it for next year's car,” Wolff explained.

“We can't homologate a lightweight chassis and bring it in, because it's $2m more that we will be over the cap. So you can see every spend more has a performance advantage.”

Upgrades for the whole season - $2-4 million

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto confirmed that $4m would cover the team’s “development parts for an entire season.”

So, for half a season, it’s in the region of $2m.

Given that a minor breach is anywhere under $7.25m, there’s no surprise that the likes of Binotto and Wolff are unhappy with Red Bull’s breach.

“It’s important to understand that even if it is $4m, which falls into the category of what is considered a minor breach, $4m is not minor,” Binotto said in Singapore.

“For us, $4m represents the development parts for an entire season. Four million means 70 people in a technical department who can come up with and produce solutions that could be worth up to half a second a lap.

“So even if we are looking at something considered a minor breach it’s not peanuts.”