According to Christian Horner, the ongoing budget cap saga that Red Bull was involved in after the FIA discovered a “small overspend” could soon come to an end.
The ongoing negotiations and standoff between Red Bull and the FIA could soon conclude, with talks between the two sides set to resume at this weekend’s Mexico City Grand Prix.
Following the FIA’s announcement that Red Bull had been in “slight excess” of the $145m limit set for teams under the 2021 financial rules, a period of negotiations began with Red Bull reaffirming its stance of innocence.
There have been many rumors about the nature of the overspend and the area of the company in which it occurred, with suggested figures ranging from a few hundred thousand to the $7.25 million ceiling that defines marginal overspend.
Red Bull was due to hold a news conference on the matter in Austin last Friday but canceled the date to allow team boss Christian Horner to meet FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem on Saturday.
Due to the sad news of the death of Red Bull owner Dietrich Matecschitz on Saturday night (the team’s immediate withdrawal from the duel as the bloodhounds were temporarily canceled and the expected deadline for acceptance), progress has been made. more in the resolution of the matter, although without immediate importance. an offered ABA (accepted default agreement) extended.
Will Red Bull accept the FIA’s offer of an ABA?
Ahead of this weekend’s Mexico City Grand Prix, talks resume between the FIA and Red Bull: the big question is whether Red Bull will accept irregularities and an ABA with the FIA. The rules of an ABA mean the 2021 driver and constructor point totals remain intact, but it means Red Bull must admit fault and accept a hefty financial penalty, as well as a sporting penalty such as a cut in the wind tunnel or timing. CFDs. .
If the team fights the Cost Cap Administration’s initial findings and escalates the issue, it risks receiving harsher penalties, including possible point drops for 2021, and potentially risking Max Verstappen’s title win.
Horner has maintained the team’s innocence from the start and went into more detail when speaking to the media in Austin.
“We did a preview in 2021,” he said.
“There have been no comments or indications that we are doing anything that violates the regulations. And then, of course, the presentation took place in March. Again, we have not heard from this presentation from March until the end of September.”
One of the main suggestions as to how Red Bull got over the cap was that it was unclear to the FIA whether parts for historic machines (i.e. demo and show cars) were included in the budget cap, and the team apparently assumed these parts were not included – only for the FIA to correct the regulations in June to include these parts.
Horner was asked if he thought the FIA had moved the goalposts by making such clarifications after teams had already submitted their 2021 submissions.
“Yes, in a simple answer to that question,” he said.
“We believe that with such an immature regulatory framework there will be clarifications and cleanups once again and I think the way idle stock has been dealt with was certainly a change in regulation in our view.
“Certainly, we apply a very strict regimen in how we treat our new shares. And I think a clarification came out in June that changed the application of that. That had a seven-figure effect on our presentation. But of course we were not allowed to change his ticket afterwards.
“The thing to keep in mind is that the shipment can contain around 75,000 line items. So there is a huge amount of data that needs to go into these submissions and I think it’s only natural that we have a very complicated set of regulations in the first year – controlling everything is almost impossible. Almost impossible.
“And interpretations were made, maybe by other teams that were a little bit different, and then a change like that has a big impact on your application, how you filled out your form, which we could resubmit at that time, if we had dealt with it. very different.”
Christian Horner: Red Bull’s cost is within the $145 million mark
Horner reiterated that he believes Red Bull is short of the required figure of $145 million.
“From our point of view, our relevant costs are within the limit,” he said.
“Now of course we are discussing with the FIA what that cost is and what possible circumstances etc are being mitigated. We haven’t had any benefit in either 2021 or 2022 from a development perspective or from an operational perspective because of the way we’ve run it within the cap. Our submission was way below the limit.
“We anticipate that certain things might be called into question or clarified, such as the process in an entirely new rule book, but based on professional third-party accounting professionals, the interpretation of these rules, a 52-page document to oversee this, was very clear from the start. Our side.
“So we absolutely and categorically don’t feel like we had an advantage in 2021 or 2022 or 2023 or 24 or some teams even talked about 26, it’s totally fictitious.”
Will Red Bull accept ABA to minimize the risk of harsher penalties?
Horner is weighing whether to accept an ABA (which is essentially a plea deal) or step in and take the matter to the Cost Cap Management Panel and possibly even the FIA International Court of Appeal, and indicated that his team still could accept the ABA. just to end things.
“The process is according to the regulations that we have been invited to enter an ABA that relates to a minor infraction and a procedural violation that you can discuss with the FIA and expose your case, your position on it,” he explained. .
“We are in that process and we have been the last… more or less what, 10 days more or less? Back and forth with the FIA. And I hoped it would be resolved before then. [United States] Weekend.”
With the matter unresolved due to Mr. Mateschitz’s death, Horner said the team’s rejection of the ABA would result in it “going to the Cost Cap Management Panel and then beyond that to the International Court of Appeals”. So it could go on for another six, nine months, which is not our intention. We want closure in 2021. I think we have had some healthy and productive discussions with the FIA and I am confident we can reach a conclusion in the near future.”
But even if Red Bull accepts the ABA and is therefore “guilty” of violating the budget cap, Horner promises “full transparency” about the nature of his team’s finances – he is keen to explain to the public why they came forward. under the assumption that the budget cap is not being reached, as well as the team’s position in individual areas of its spending.
“What I am going to say is that once this situation is over, there will be full transparency,” he said.
“I will explain to you the reasons for our filing and the position we have taken as to why we believe that each of the contested line items has, in our opinion, an opposing position. It must be transparent. Everything must be transparent. There will be no private, secret deal. I think it would all be absolutely overboard. This is very different from a previous situation (regarding the FIA’s undisclosed agreement with Ferrari regarding the power output of their engine in 2019).
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