How much did Red Bull overspend by? FIA reveals ‘minor’ breach of F1 budget that leaves team ‘surprised’

Red Bull have been found guilty of breaching Formula One’s new budget cap just 24 hours after Max Verstappen secured his second world championship.

Victory at soaking Suzuka ensured Verstappen had successfully defended his title, but celebrations were dampened on Monday when F1’s governing body confirmed a “minor” overspend during the 2021 season.

The breach is said to be in the lower of the two categories, meaning it is less than five per cent of the cost cap, or $7.25m, while Red Bull have also been found to have committed “procedural” breaches of the financial regulations.

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An FIA statement said: “With respect to this first year of the application of the financial regulations, the intervention of the FIA cost-cap administration has been limited to reviewing the submissions made by the competitors and that no full formal investigations were launched.”

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Red Bull responded with a statement of their own, saying: “Our 2021 submission was below the cost-cap limit, so we need to carefully review the FIA’s findings, as our belief remains that the relevant costs are under the 2021 cost-cap amount.

“Despite the conjecture and positioning of others, there is of course a process under the regulations with the FIA which we will respectfully follow while we consider all the options available to us.”

Aston Martin and Williams were also both found to have committed procedural breaches.

Red Bull’s infraction concerns accounting from last year, when Verstappen edged out Lewis Hamilton in one of the most dramatic and controversial finishes to a season in memory.

“What I can say is I remember last year in Silverstone we had our last upgrade and fortunately it was great and we could fight with it,” said Hamilton last week, before the findings were published.

“But then we would see Red Bull every weekend or every other weekend bringing upgrades. They had, I think, at least four more upgrades from that point.

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

What is the budget cap and why was it introduced?

The budget cap was introduced as a response to the soaring costs of competing in Formula One. The sport had long had an eye on spending habits that grew in the years of plenty to reach annual outlays by the big dogs – Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull – of more than $300m a year.

This not only disfigured the competition, forcing once great institutions like McLaren and Williams to the bottom of the field and others out of the sport all together, it became unsustainable in the post-Covid landscape. The budget cap was eventually announced in 2019 for launch in 2021 to contain costs and address the competitive imbalance.

An initial cap of $175m was set for 2021 based on a 21-race season. That was reduced to $145m as a consequence of Covid, falls to $140m this year and reduces to $135m from 2023-25. Allowance will be made for the increase to a 24-race calendar.

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