Brown stands by F1 cost cap ‘cheating’ letter

McLaren CEO Zak Brown says he stands by his controversial letter to the FIA earlier this year suggesting that overspend breaches of Formula 1’s cost cap "constitute cheating".

Brown stands by F1 cost cap ‘cheating’ letter

In the wake of it emerging that Red Bull had broken the 2021 cost cap limit, Brown wrote to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali urging them to treat the matter with the utmost seriousness.

In the letter, he wrote: “The overspend breach, and possibly the procedural breaches, constitute cheating by offering a significant advantage across technical, sporting, and financial regulations."

He added: "The bottom line is any team who has overspent has gained an unfair advantage both in the current and following year's car development."

Brown’s use of the word ‘cheating’ did not go down well with Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who said it was ‘absolutely shocking’ that such an allegation had been thrown at his squad.

“We’ve been on trial because of public accusations since Singapore,” he said at the United States Grand Prix.

“The numbers have been put out in the media that are miles out of reality. And the damage that does to the brand, to our partners, to our drivers, to our workforce, in an age where mental health is prevalent, we’re seeing significant issues within our workforce.

“We’re getting kids that are being bullied in playgrounds that are employees’ children, that is not right through fictitious allegations from other teams.

“You cannot go around just making that kind of allegation without any fact or substance. We absolutely are appalled at the behaviour of some of our competitors.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, on the grid

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, on the grid

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

But despite the controversy the wording of his letter caused, Brown says his views on the matter remain unchanged.

“I stand by my letter,” he said, reflecting on the cost cap controversy. “I think when you break the rules, whether it's technical and financial, there are many different ways to characterise it.

“I know it's such a strong word, but I don't see any difference between breaking the financial cap versus having too low of a ride height, or whatever the case may be.

“If it's something within the sporting, financial, or technical regulations, a breach of the rules, I guess you could call it a couple of different things. Some people in a more simplistic manner would call it that.”

Brown said he also remain unconvinced about some of Red Bull’s defences over the cost cap breach – especially how much it claims it was originally under the limit, and that a staff canteen deal triggered a major overspend.

“I thought there were things that didn't make sense,” added Brown.

“We all have to take care of our employees. We have our employees coming to us saying this team does this, this team does this on per diems, this team does this on food, this team does this on hotels. That then puts you in a competitive position when you are hiring and retaining.

“So I think to kind of single out, 'this is where we spend more money,' collectively, if that was pushed in the cap, then you're spending less money somewhere else.

“I think it all goes into performance. I don't think you can kind of have isolated selected elements and say it was this part that was out of the cap.”

Read Also:

Brown also thinks is a little strange that Red Bull has repeatedly complained about being right at the limit, but then suggested its original submission last year was many millions of dollars under.

He added: “The whole name of the game is to get as close to the cap as possible. And they were one of the teams saying they couldn't get down to the cap. So then how were you four [million] under the cap?

“You wouldn't want to be four under the cap, you want to be $400,000 under the cap, so I personally would have handled it differently.

“But I don't think what they did was intentional. I know it's kind of ‘sandwichgate’, but I think that's downplaying what it was. So all that doesn't quite stack up.”

shares
comments
Gasly: More F1 drivers could face bans if penalty system doesn’t change
Previous article

Gasly: More F1 drivers could face bans if penalty system doesn’t change

Next article

Perez felt his F1 season got "back on track" after "a few bad races"

Perez felt his F1 season got "back on track" after "a few bad races"
How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1 Plus

How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1

Formula 1’s transformation into a global sport meant the gradual extinction for a small team determined to stay true to its low-budget roots. But Tyrrell would eventually be reborn as a world-beating outfit again, explains MAURICE HAMILTON, albeit in different colours…

Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver Plus

Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver

Many doubted Lewis Hamilton’s move from McLaren to Mercedes for the 2013 Formula 1 season. But the journey he’s been on since has taken the Briton to new heights - and to a further six world championship titles

Formula 1
Feb 2, 2023
Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era Plus

Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era

OPINION: With teams outside the top three having struggled in Formula 1 in recent seasons, the rules changes introduced in 2022 should have more of an impact this season. How well Haas does, as the poster child for the kind of team that F1 wanted to be able to challenge at the front, is crucial

Formula 1
Feb 2, 2023
The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff Plus

The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff

OPINION: Although the central building blocks for Mercedes’ recent, long-lasting Formula 1 success were installed before he joined the team, Toto Wolff has been instrumental in ensuring it maximised its finally-realised potential after years of underachievement. The 10-year anniversary of Wolff joining Mercedes marks the perfect time to assess his work

Formula 1
Feb 1, 2023
The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate Plus

The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate

Alpine’s signing of Pierre Gasly alongside Esteban Ocon revives memories of a famous all-French line-up, albeit in the red of Ferrari, for BEN EDWARDS. Can the former AlphaTauri man's arrival help the French team on its path back to winning ways in a tribute act to the Prancing Horse's title-winning 1983?

Formula 1
Jan 31, 2023
How do the best races of F1 2022 stack up to 2021? Plus

How do the best races of F1 2022 stack up to 2021?

OPINION: A system to score all the grands prix from the past two seasons produces some interesting results and sets a standard that 2023 should surely exceed

Formula 1
Jan 31, 2023
Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022? Plus

Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?

Who was the fastest driver in 2022? Everyone has an opinion, but what does the stopwatch say? Obviously, differing car performance has an effect on ultimate laptime – but it’s the relative speed of each car/driver package that’s fascinating and enlightening says ALEX KALINAUCKAS

Formula 1
Jan 30, 2023
Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return Plus

Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return

He has more starts without a podium than anyone else in Formula 1 world championship history, but Nico Hulkenberg is back for one more shot with Haas. After spending three years on the sidelines, the revitalised German is aiming to prove to his new team what the F1 grid has been missing

Formula 1
Jan 29, 2023