Brown sticks to F1 cost cap 'cheating' letter

Brown sticks to F1 cost cap ‘cheating’ letter

Following news that Red Bull had exceeded 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: “Failure to overspend, and possibly breaches of procedure, constitute cheating by offering a significant advantage over technical, sporting and financial regulations.”

He added: “At the end of the day, any team that overspent gained an unfair advantage in both the development of the current year’s car and the following year.”

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 leveled against his team.

“We were tried because of public charges from Singapore,” he said at the United States Grand Prix.

“The figures were broadcast in the media miles from reality. And the damage this is doing to the brand, to our partners, to our drivers, to our workforce, at a time when mental health is prevalent, we are seeing significant issues within our workforce .

“We get kids who are being bullied in playgrounds who are the children of employees, it’s not just through fictitious allegations from other teams.

“You can’t just make these kinds of allegations without any facts or substance. We are absolutely appalled by the behavior of some of our competitors.

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

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport footage

But despite the controversy over the wording of his letter, 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 technically or financially, there are many different ways to characterize it.

“I know that’s such a strong word, but I don’t see any difference between breaking the financial ceiling and having too low a ride height, or anything else.

“If it’s something in the sporting, financial or technical regulations, a breach of the rules, I guess you can call it different ways. Some people, in a more simplistic way, would call it that.

Brown said he was also unconvinced of some of Red Bull’s cost cap breach defenses – in particular how much he claims he was originally under the limit, and that a deal staff canteen triggered a major overrun.

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

“We all need to take care of our employees. Our employees come and tell us that this team does this, this team does this on per diems, this team does this on food, this team does this on hotels. This then puts you in a competitive position when you hire and retain.

“So I think to distinguish, ‘this is where we’re spending more money’, collectively, if that’s been pushed into the cap, then you’re spending less money elsewhere.

“I think it’s all about performance. I don’t think you can somehow isolate selected items and say it was that part that was off the ceiling.

Brown also thinks it’s a bit strange that Red Bull has repeatedly complained about being just on the edge, but then suggested that its initial bid last year was less than several million dollars.

He added: “The full name of the game is to get as close to the ceiling as possible. And they were on the teams saying they couldn’t hit the cap. So how were you four [million] under the hat?

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

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

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