Brown: “Critically important” F1 cost cap must be policed like technical rules

Zak Brown believes Formula 1 must treat any potential breaches of the cost cap in the same way as a technical rule break ahead of the FIA’s update on Monday.

Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, arrives at the track

The FIA has been completing its audit of each F1 team’s financial submission for the 2021 season in recent months, judging if each outfit complied with the $145 million limit for last year.

Speculation arose over the Singapore Grand Prix weekend that two teams - Red Bull and Aston Martin - may have been in breach of the cap, although both outfits fiercely denied the allegations.

The FIA was due to issue the compliance certificates to the teams who did meet the budget cap on Wednesday, only to announce that it had delayed doing so until Monday after the Japanese Grand Prix.

Speaking at Bathurst on Friday, McLaren Racing CEO Brown said he was unsure why the FIA had postponed issuing the certificates, but stressed the need for any possible breaches to be dealt with in the same way as any other rule break.

“I don’t know more than anyone else,” said Brown. “The certificates were supposed to be distributed on Wednesday and they have now been postponed to Monday, which means for some reason they are not ready.

“You can, based on the speculation, assume a team or two haven’t complied. I don’t know that to be the case.

“Cost caps are critically important, and we need to make sure it is enforced [and] if someone has breached that, the appropriate penalties, not just financial, but sporting and technical, are put in place.

“If you bend the rules technically [or] in sporting, you get penalties, and financials should be the same.

“Because if someone has overspent, then that gives them an on track unfair advantage, and it needs to be dealt with accordingly firmly and quickly.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75,Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18,Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75,Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18,Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Erik Junius

Under the FIA’s financial regulations, any team that is found to have exceeded the budget cap by less than 5% - around $7m in 2021 - would be considered to have made a minor breach, with sanctions ranging from a reprimand to points deductions.

But a breach beyond the 5% mark is considered to have a material breach, which can be penalised with exclusion from the championship, points deductions, cost cap reductions or testing limitations.

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Red Bull said it was “absolutely confident” it had stayed within the budget cap, and said it was considering action over the “defamatory” allegations over the Singapore weekend.

Ferrari and Mercedes were clear in the need for any possible overspends to be dealt with severely. Ferrari claimed that even a minor breach could have been worth half a second per lap in performance last year.

On Thursday at Suzuka, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton said his hopes of winning the title in 2021 were held back by the limitations of the budget cap, having narrowly lost out to Red Bull driver Max Verstappen at the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

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