After deliberately breaking the F1 cost cap and being duly handed a lenient penalty, Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff believes no team will want to replicate Red Bull in order to avoid any reputational damage. The FIA concluded that Red Bull did not intentionally overspend and thus committed a minor breach of the budget cap, introduced in 2021. This is despite Christian Horner saying on camera that Red Bull would push the cost cap to the limits of what is legal within the F1 framework.
Many years into the future, someone at Red Bull F1 will reveal the team deliberately broke the budget cap rule to aid the development of their car. But that is speculation, for now, the FIA has given Red Bull F1 more benefit and very little doubt. It is difficult to decipher if the incurred development penalties will hit Red Bull hard, the team was imperious in 2022.
The FIA fined Red Bull to the tune of $7M and reduced wind tunnel time by 10-percent. Why 10-percent and not 5-percent? surely a minor unintentional breach of financial regulations should have no financial or development burden other than paying back the amount overspent and a simple reprimand. But that’s a debate for another time.
Nonetheless, Toto Wolff is content with the way that the FIA handled Red Bull’s excess spending and believes the penalties are fair enough, to a degree. For Wolff it is the reputational damage Red Bull inflicted on itself that is a penalty within a penalty. During a recent media interview, Wolff explained his views:
“I think the biggest penalty was not the 10% wind tunnel time [reduction] or the 7 million dollars. I think the biggest penalty was the reputational hit that the team got and in a way it’s unfair for the Red Bull mother brand which is fantastic in their field.
“But the racing team has just been having such a reputational hit and also the people. So I think nobody will kind of dare bring it close to that anymore.”
“They [Red Bull] have a little bit less wind tunnel time, so I think that will help us to hopefully catch up.”