Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 outpaces Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving (16) Ferrari F1-75 during the F1 Monaco GP on May 29, 2022 in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
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Top F1 teams Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes believe they face fines for going over the budget limit this season, and Christian Horner is urging the FIA to act quickly to avoid a “world accounting championship”.
All F1 teams have a $140m (£119m) spending cap for 2022 – with a cap meant to improve competition – but soaring inflation and travel costs have put an unexpected strain on teams’ budgets.
This has led Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes, the biggest and currently most competitive sports teams, to stress that the budget cap must be increased due to “force majeure”.
However, there is opposition in the grid – for example, from Alfa Romeo and Alpine, who see no reason to raise their cap.
“At the time we all agreed to these cuts, no one could have predicted what was going on in the world and how it was causing inflation in every home around the world,” Red Bull Team Principal Horner told Sky Sports F1.
“We see it in Formula 1, we see it in logistics, we see it in energy costs. I think the FIA should take this into account.
“They have the ability to use force majeure to apply the inflationary effect, because we do not have enough leverage to reach the limit. I think the same is probably true for the seven teams in Formula 1.
“We still have six months to go this year, inflation still looks like it’s going up rather than down and hopefully the FIA will take action soon.”
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Agreeing with the opposing team boss, Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto added: “I don’t think we’ll have the option to stay down. So I’m pretty sure we’re going to go downhill at some stage.
“There is a threshold in the rules, which is 5%. If you do not exceed 5% over the budget cap threshold, it will be considered a minor violation. And what is a minor violation in case of force majeure, what will the stewards and the FIA decide in terms of fines?
“I have no idea – but I don’t think we – and many teams – don’t have any way to just stay inside and even fire people, I don’t think that’s a good and right choice.”
Horner also emphasized that Red Bull “will end up having more people in our finance department than we have in our drawing office” and added: “What we don’t want is Formula 1 to be the accounting world championship.” accounting, and not than technical or sports.
Mercedes also sided with their rivals on the grid.
“The cost cap was introduced for certain purposes, to allow small teams to spend as much as large ones,” Toto Wolff explained. “You shouldn’t haggle every year to raise the marginal value.
“But I think we are facing an exceptional situation as real inflation is currently over 7%. Our energy prices in Brackley have tripled, our transportation costs have tripled.
“I think this needs to be taken into account because we want to avoid any circumstance, reorganize the restructuring of large teams again in a way that is really detrimental to us as a team and as an industry.
“This is a force majeure situation, the raging war in Ukraine and the consequences it had for energy prices, no one could have foreseen.
“Some kind of compromise is needed between the teams that oppose inflation adjustment and the teams that are for it.”
“This is not force majeure” | Why other teams disagree
The two teams that oppose the change are Alpine and Alfa Romeo.
“Most teams make their budgets in November, December and next year, and we are no different,” said Alpine’s Otmar Szafnauer. “And at that time inflation was already at the level of 7%+. The RPI in England was 7.1%, 7.2%.
“We took this into account when we put together our budgets and planned all the development work we were going to do. And we are still within that.
“Where there is a will, there is a way, and we set a budget limit and we must stick to it.”
Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo’s Fred Wasser said teams could simply stop developing their cars early, cutting costs.
“We are in such a situation, and sooner or later we will have to stop the development of the car, because we will be at the limit of our budget. And I think everyone can do the same.
“It’s absolutely not a force majeure because inflation is not a force majeure.”
Horner, however, said the desire to increase the budget “has nothing to do with the new details.”
“We didn’t introduce as many components, especially compared to the standard season,” he continued. “Of course we try to be very selective in the parts we produce.
“This is a completely different tactic and a completely different way.
“I think we really need clarity, and clarity quickly. Because, quite simply, it’s not right for a couple of teams that are possibly underperforming to demand a buyout – because that was never the purpose of the budget cap.
“The budget cap was made to keep the best teams from spending insanely.”