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Budget cap breach amounts to cheating

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Formula One teams who spend more than allowed by the rules are effectively cheating and should face stiff sporting and financial penalties, McLaren boss Zak Brown wrote to FIA, F1’s governing body.

The BBC reported details of the letter on Monday and McLaren confirmed they were correct.

Championship leaders Red Bull, who won consecutive drivers’ titles with Max Verstappen, breached the $145 million cap in 2021.

The FIA said on Oct. 10 that it was a ‘minor overspend’, or less than 5 percent of the overall cap, but gave no details of how much was involved. Red Bull have said their submission was below the cost cap limit.

Brown did not directly name Red Bull or Aston Martin, who were deemed to have committed a procedural breach, in the letter dated Oct. 12 with copies sent to those other teams who complied with the financial regulations.

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

“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.”

Brown suggested a team in breach should have their cap cut in the year after the ruling with a penalty equal to the overspend plus a further fine — so a $2m overspend in 2021 would mean $4m less for 2023.

“In addition, we believe there should be minor overspend sporting penalties of a 20% reduction in CFD (computational fluid dynamics) and wind tunnel time,” he added.

Brown also suggested changing the rules so any second minor overspend breach automatically became a major overspend, and lowering the threshold from 5% to 2.5%.

The American said the cost cap, introduced last year to help level the playing field, had been a key factor in attracting new shareholders and investors to Formula One.

“It is therefore critical that we be very firm on implementing the rules of the cost cap for the integrity and the future of F1,” he wrote.

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