Top F1 teams accused of using “loopholes” to exploit cost cap

Mercedes and Red Bull have been accused of exploiting “loopholes” within the F1 cost cap regulations in order to keep hold of staff. 
Otmar Szafnauer (USA) Alpine F1 Team
Otmar Szafnauer (USA) Alpine F1 Team

F1 introduced a $145m spending cap in 2021 in a bid to cut costs and help level out the playing field. 

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and Red Bull’s Christian Horner have claimed both their teams have been forced to make staff redundancies to ensure they have stayed within budget. 

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But Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has claimed the big teams are finding ways to relocate staff within their organisation that keeps them within the cost cap. 

"When everyone's the right size, you lose that [advantage]. You lose that a little bit,” Szafnauer is quoted as saying by GPFans. 

“What some of the other bigger teams are now doing is they're looking to exploit or have a better understanding of where there are loopholes or some organisational changes you can make to actually stuff more people under that budget cap.

"They're looking at: 'Yeah, I got rid of a hundred people, but now I want to hire back because under the budget cap I was able to find spots for them where they either don't count as a whole person or they do some marketing stuff or whatever it is, or they work on a boat for some of the time’.

"We're not there yet. I think they're there already, and that advantage of being right at the beginning does dissipate.”

Back in October, Red Bull were hit with a $7m fine and docked 10 percent of their wind tunnel time over the next 12 months for breaching the cost cap during Max Verstappen’s maiden title-winning campaign in 2021. 

Red Bull fiercely denied throughout the saga that they had gone over the cost cap but F1’s governing body, the FIA, later revealed the Milton Keynes team had wrongly excluded costs in a number of areas including catering, which ultimately led to an overspend of £1.8m.

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