The Formula One governing body, the FIA, has found Red Bull guilty of exceeding the sport’s budget cap.
The FIA stated that Red Bull exceeded the $145 million (£114 million) limit in 2021, but that the offense was “minor,” the lower of the two categories of breach.
This means that the team exceeded the limit by less than 5%, or $7.25 million.
Aston Martin were also found to have violated the cap’s procedural requirements.
The FIA did not specify how much Red Bull exceeded the cap, how it did so, or what penalties would be imposed. The letter stated that it was “currently determining appropriate action.”
Red Bull said in a statement that they noted the FIA’s findings “with surprise and disappointment”.
The team added: “Our 2021 submission was below the cost-cap limit, so we need to carefully review the FIA’s findings, as our belief remains that the relevant costs are under the 2021 cost-cap amount.
“Despite the conjecture and positioning of others, there is, of course, a process under the regulations with the FIA which we will respectfully follow while we consider all the options available to us.”
Both Red Bull and Aston Martin have the right to appeal the decision.
A reprimand; deduction of drivers’ and/or constructors’ championship points for the season in question; suspension from one or more stages of a competition; limitations on aerodynamic or other testing; and a reduction of the team’s cost cap are all possible penalties for a “minor” violation.
The FIA statement added: “With respect to this first year of the application of the financial regulations, the intervention of the FIA cost-cap administration has been limited to reviewing the submissions made by the competitors and that no full formal investigations have been launched.”
A procedural violation is not an overspend, but rather a failure to correctly fill out forms. Williams was also found guilty of this earlier this year and was fined $25,000 for it.
Earlier on Monday, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner reiterated his belief that the team would be under the cap in 2021, a season in which Red Bull driver Max Verstappen won a close championship race against Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in controversial circumstances at the year’s final race.
“We’re very confident we’re within the cap and within those financial regulations,” Horner told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“So we’ve been shocked at the speculation and accusations that have been made by other teams. We wait for the FIA to conclude their process and we wait to see what comes out. Anything other than compliance, we’ll be extremely surprised at. “
In order to be capable of an appeal, Red Bull has the option of entering into a “settlement agreement” with the FIA.
In this case, a team admits guilt and the FIA imposes the appropriate penalty.
If a settlement agreement cannot be reached, the case will be heard by an adjudication panel of independent judges, who will examine the evidence and decide whether the offence should be punished.
If the team is still dissatisfied, it can appeal to the FIA’s international court of appeals.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto stated on Sunday that even a “minor” violation was a serious offense, and he elaborated on the importance of an overspend to a team’s competitiveness.
Binotto said: “If there is a breach, the penalty has to be significant. Our car was built within budget constraints, and we know how much even a minor deviation would have impacted performance.
“$5m is about half a second, $1-2m is 0.1-0.2 seconds, which can be the difference between a second on the grid to pole.
“It is about 2021 and also over the following seasons. I am expecting full transparency and clarity on the discussions they have had. “
Toto Wolff, the team principal of Mercedes F1, has also called for transparency in the process used to determine the severity of any offense.