Red Bull Fined $7M, Wind Tunnel Testing Restricted Over 2021 F1 Cost Cap Breach

Red Bull Racing’s punishment for overspending during the 2021 season consists of a modest fine—and the loss of some crucial aero development opportunities.

byJames Gilboy| PUBLISHED Oct 28, 2022 1:28 PM
Red Bull Fined $7M, Wind Tunnel Testing Restricted Over 2021 F1 Cost Cap Breach
Red Bull Racing
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Red Bull Racing has entered an Accepted Breach Agreement with Formula 1 after being found guilty of overspending during the 2021 season. The team will pay $7 million plus administrative fees, as well as lose some crucial aerodynamic development resources.

Red Bull was found to have exceeded 2021's $145 million cost cap by 432,652 GBP (approximately $501,000), or 0.37%, according to Formula1.com. This qualifies as a "minor breach," and falls within the 5% overspend margin. The FIA stated its investigation found "no [...] evidence that RBR (Red Bull Racing) has sought at any time to act in bad faith, dishonestly or in fraudulent manner, nor has it willfully concealed any information from the Cost Cap Administration." It offered Red Bull its punitive terms under the Accepted Breach Agreement, which the team accepted.

Max Verstappen at the 2022 United States Grand Prix. Red Bull Racing

The Agreement's terms encompass a $7 million fine that is due to the FIA within 30 days, plus payment for the administrative costs associated with the Agreement's preparation. It also includes a 10% reduction in Restricted Wind Tunnel Testing and Restricted Computational Fluid Dynamics testing, both of which are vital for aero development. Any violation in association with the terms will be met with additional penalties from the Cost Cap Adjudication panel.

The FIA states this verdict is final, and that it will not accept any appeals. The result may partially satisfy outspoken critics of the FIA's handling of the overspend debacle, such as McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, who called for a loss of wind tunnel time in a letter calling out Red Bull for "cheating." This may amount to the more consequential of the two penalties, as $7 million is effectively pocket change to a team that, until recently, spent hundreds of millions annually, and is backed by a global beverages company. Losing aero development resources, however, could hinder 2023 car design, which could have cascading effects on subsequent seasons for up to the duration of the current regulatory era.

It's also entirely possible for Red Bull's momentum in 2022 to carry it forward though, making the penalties for its overspend as consequential as a slap on the wrist.

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