Ferrari believes Red Bull’s penalty for breaching the 2021 Financial Regulations is low because it is free to spend its money in other areas to compensate for its aerodynamic restrictions.
Red Bull was hit with a 10 percent reduction in aerodynamic testing time for the next 12 months for exceeding the budget cap by 1.6 percent — or $2.2 million — although the FIA acknowledged the figure should have been 0.37 percent ($500,000) due to the team not excluding tax from its budget submission as it was allowed.
On top of that penalty, Red Bull was handed a $7 million fine, but that is excluded from the cap and Ferrari’s racing director Laurent Mekies says it allows Christian Horner’s team to reallocate resources to compensate.
“I think what we said in Singapore is the impact of the budget gap on the competitiveness of the car is huge,” Mekies said. “Therefore, we certainly, as Ferrari, were pushing to treat any potential breach as seriously as possible, because it will potentially have a very relevant impact on the races we are watching. That’s what we say. At the time it was an ‘if’ scenario.
“Now in that context, it is good news that the FIA has reached a clear conclusion and has established a breach,” Mekies continued. “It’s good news for the sport, good news for us. It’s also good news that the breach is admitted by all parties and therefore we are very satisfied that we are reached that. It is pretty much what we are calling for.
“We have been spending the last few weeks trying to talk together about, ‘What would you do with half a million more? What would you do with one million more? What would you do with two million more? Three million more?’ Etcetera. So, from our perspective, with our numbers as Ferrari, two millions of Euros of overspend seems like something that would have a significant lap-time influence, would influence races. That’s what I’ve been saying for a few weeks and that’s no different to today.
“We have to move on; the penalty is what it is,” he said. “We certainly feel it is low. We don’t see it on the same scale as being able to compensate the overspend that was done, especially combined with the fact that ultimately it is not combined with any budget cap reductions for them. Therefore, you are effectively completely free to spend your money elsewhere.
“You will spend a little bit less in wind tunnel where you have these 10 percent restrictions, (so) you will spend it somewhere else. So we think that, altogether, what will remain of the real impact of that penalty will probably be very small.”
And Mekies says there will also be a cost saving for Red Bull from not being able to run its wind tunnel or CFD simulations that can be re-allocated.
“It’s not just about the energy of your tunnel, it’s whatever upgrade you would have brought with that extra 10 percent. You are not going to produce it tomorrow. That money, you are free to spend it strategically elsewhere — be that weight reduction, be that suspension upgrades… So, altogether, you need to make sure that once you have subtracted that advantage that you are getting back, that you still have a meaningful penalty in hand.”
Despite disagreeing with the punishment, Mekies says the main lesson needs to be for all teams and the FIA to help ensure a quicker resolution to budget cap issues in future.
“The important thing is that we arrived to a clear breach, and to a confirmed breach. We move on, and I think moving forward what we all need is to do everything we can to support the FIA to make sure that we don’t need to wait for October next year to know how 2022 went. I think it’s something that will be shared by most people in the room, and we’ll certainly do everything we can to support everyone we need to, to reach that target.”