OCTOBER 18, 2022
Newey at centre of Red Bull budget cheating
Adrian Newey, one of the most successful and recognisable Formula 1 designers in history, is reportedly at the centre of the budget cap scandal.
This week, McLaren supremo Zak Brown wrote a letter to FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem accusing Red Bull of "cheating" by spending above the budget cap limit en route to the 2021 title.
The FIA has found the energy drink-owned team in "minor" breach of the 2021 cap, with an appropriate penalty now in the process of being negotiated.
"The penalties will come later," correspondent Allesandra Retico told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. "But a fine would not be a deterrent against transgressing."
Indeed, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff thinks even a $10 million fine for a hypothetical $2 million overspend would not be appropriate.
"If you spend $5 million too much and that's apparently a minor infraction, it still has a huge impact on the championship," he is quoted by Marca.
"Even if Red Bull spent 2 million more, they cannot fix the matter even by paying five times more to the FIA."
In his leaked letter to ben Sulayem, McLaren's Brown is the first team boss to outwardly accuse Red Bull of "cheating".
"The overspend breach, and possibly the procedural breaches, constitute cheating by offering a significant advantage across technical, sporting and financial regulations," he wrote.
"We don't feel a financial penalty alone would be a suitable penalty for an overspend breach or a serious procedural breach."
Even former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who has been historically close to Red Bull, is on the record predicting that the penalty will be "worse" than a fine.
Brown proposes that Red Bull's 2023 budget cap should be reduced, with wind tunnel and CFD time reduced by 20 percent.
There have been rumours that Red Bull's overspend related to minor financial matters including catering and sick pay, but new reports suggest that chief technical officer Newey is at the centre of the dispute.
The claim was initially made by Germany's authoritative Auto Motor und Sport, and now the Dutch broadcaster Ziggo Sport agrees that the breach "involves Adrian Newey".
"Newey is one of the team's highest paid employees and there is some debate as to whether he is a Red Bull employee or if the contract is with Adrian's company," the broadcaster said.
"Red Bull claims that he works directly for the team, so according to the rules he is not included in the spending limit. The FIA does not agree with this as he is engaged via his firm, and this means he does not fall under the exceptions to the limit."