We know that Red Bull has breached the F1 cost cap. The situation has become more and more tense between the top three teams (Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes). The McLaren CEO has also spoken about this and said that the team need to be punished.

Now, let's say that the Red Bull team do not get punished for this breach, and only get reprimanded and keep their championship. Will this give the others teams, like Mercedes or Ferrari, the opportunity to find the loop-hole in order to breach the cost cap without getting punished? Let's say that in 2023, Ferrari wins the championship but breach the cost cap, they can say that their situation is the same as 2021 and of course, keep their title to themselves.

I think that this will become a big problem if the team do not get punished, because the other teams can manipulate this situation in order to find the loop-hole.


1 Answer 1


This was certainly what the other teams (and many commentators) believed would happen if Red Bull's sentence was too lenient - the cost cap would become meaningless and other teams would start breaching it too. The day before you posted this, Lewis Hamilton stated in an interview:

If they are relaxed with these rules, all the teams will just go over. Spending millions more and only having a slap on the wrist is not going to be great for the sport. They might as well not have a cost cap in the future.

There is precedent for this: in 1994, the FIA banned the use of launch control software, yet that year's title-winning Benetton B194 was found to have one installed. The FIA couldn't prove they'd actually used it, so Benetton got away with it, and over the following seasons, so many other teams installed launch control software that they "weren't using" that the FIA were forced to admit the ban was unenforceable and lifted it.

In the case of the cost cap, however, this hasn't happened. Despite the cost cap rules being made more stringent for 2022, and criticism from some that Red Bull's punishment was too lenient, the FIA have stated that no teams breached the cost cap that year.

The linked Sky Sports article suggests why: while some teams were unhappy with Red Bull's punishment, others were satisfied, and Mercedes' Toto Wolff noted that the "reputational damage" Red Bull suffered would be enough of a deterrent. In the case of Benetton, they weren't punished at all, and the incident was overshadowed by other controversies surrounding the team that year (namely, accusations of illegal fuel hoses, and Michael Schumacher's controversial title-deciding collision with Damon Hill), such that it didn't hurt Benetton's reputation all that much.

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