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McLaren Boss Calls For Penalties On Cost Cap Breaches


McLaren F1 boss Zak Brown calls for penalties to be applied to Red Bull F1 for breaching the sports cost cap rules during their championship-winning 2021 season, saying breaking the cap ‘constitutes cheating’.

BBC reported the American’s comments made in a letter, dated 12 October, and addressed to the FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and F1 president Stefano Domenicali, that had been leaked.

The letter had also been sent to the other teams in F1 not to have committed any cost cap breaches, Ferrari, Mercedes, Alpine, Alfa Romeo and Haas.

The letter comes a week following the announcement that the FIA had found Red Bull F1 guilty of a minor breach of the cap, meaning the team had exceeded the cost cap, but by less than 5% or USD$7.25 million (AUD$11.5 million).

In his letter, Brown writes: “The overspend breach, and possibly the procedural breaches, constitute cheating by offering a significant advantage across technical, sporting and financial regulations.”

“The FIA has run an extremely thorough collaborative and open process, we have even been given a one-year dress rehearsal, with ample opportunity to seek any clarification if details were unclear. So there is no reason for any team to now say they are surprised.

“The bottom line is any team who has overspent has gained an unfair advantage both in the current and following year’s car development.

“We don’t feel a financial penalty alone would be a suitable penalty for an overspend breach or a serious procedural breach. There clearly needs to be a sporting penalty in these instances, as determined by the FIA,” he writes.

Brown proposes that breaches be penalised with a cost-cap reduction the following year of the overspend amount, plus a fine, additionally, he suggests minor breaches should be penalised by reducing development time with large scale tools such as a wind tunnel.

A call is also made by Brown to avoid teams taking advantage of the leniency teams get for making minor breaches.

“To avoid teams accumulating and benefiting from the multiplier effect of several minor overspend breaches, we suggest that a second minor overspend automatically moves the team to a major breach,” he writes.

A further suggestion to lower the threshold of what constitutes a minor breach is made, as a 5% variance is ‘too large’ when considering the financials involved.

Brown concludes his letter with a call for transparency when dealing with budget caps and by calling the introduction of it a success.

Aston Martin and Williams have also been found to have committed ‘procedural’ breaches, the latter of which was fined USD$25,000 (AUD$39,000), however, no specific team was singled out in the letter in an apparent attempt to make it clear his views apply to any potential cost-cap breach.

The announcement the the FIA had found Red Bull guilty of breaching the cost-cap, and the leaking of Zak Brown’s letter follows that announcement earlier this year, that Audi would be joining the Formula 1 championship, sighting the cost-cap and the cost-efficiency it provides as a reason it has decided now is the time to get involved.

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