Formula 1: accusation of financial doping: rule guardian in the Red Bull dilemma

The backroom crime thriller about the alleged financial fraud by Max Verstappen's Red Bull team is causing serious difficulties for the rulers of Formula 1.

Formula 1: accusation of financial doping: rule guardian in the Red Bull dilemma

The backroom crime thriller about the alleged financial fraud by Max Verstappen's Red Bull team is causing serious difficulties for the rulers of Formula 1.

The question of sanctions for the violation of the budget limit by the world champion racing team splits the racing series and becomes an endurance test for the sports authorities. "If there has been a breach of the rules, there must be a significant penalty," said Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto just on the sidelines of the World Cup race in Japan. But many observers doubt that the world association Fia will get through to it.

"Minor" amount with a decisive advantage?

After months of auditing, the Fia announced that Red Bull was the only one of the ten teams to have exceeded the spending limit last year. The cost limit is intended to ensure more equal opportunities. The violation is a “minor” sum, the umbrella organization said. But that's exactly what the scene is arguing about. Minor, i.e. less than five percent of the allowed $ 145 million (around 150 million euros). That would still be up to 7.25 million.

Ferrari team boss Binotto calculated that additional investments of one to two million dollars can make a car faster by up to 0.2 seconds per lap. That is a decisive advantage, for example in the fight for pole position. Experts pointed out that smaller teams like Alfa Romeo don't spend much more than $2.5 million per season to develop their racing cars.

The fact that the Fia has not yet announced a penalty and left open in its message what the specific amount of Red Bull's offense is, only accelerated speculation. Three-year-old statements by Formula 1 sports director Ross Brawn quickly reappeared, who asserted at the time: "This set of rules has bite. If you fraudulently break the financial rules, you will lose your world title."

Extensive penalties

The catalog of possible penalties is far-reaching. Everything is possible, from a mere warning to the deduction of championship points in the driver or team rankings, a ban or a restriction on development tests to a lowering of the spending limit for the team. The Fia, however, already pointed out in its message that only a serious violation would automatically lead to the deduction of championship points.

This can be taken as an indication that Verstappen does not have to worry too much about his first title from the previous year. It was already highly controversial. Race director Michael Masi bent the rules at the finale in Abu Dhabi, enabling Verstappen to overtake Lewis Hamilton on the last lap.

The results of the Fia financial audit now tore open the wounds of the numerous Hamilton fans. Verstappen not only benefited from the mistake of Masi, who was later dismissed for this reason, but also from an illegally developed car - as many wrote in tweets dripping with anger on the Internet. We are talking about financial doping, which should be punished just as severely as doping in other sports.

Red Bull surprised and disappointed

Red Bull, meanwhile, was "surprised" and "disappointed" by the allegations. The team is still convinced that it has complied with the spending limit and wants to examine legal means. Should Red Bull not admit a mistake after all, the case will go before the Fia's specially set up finance court. An appeal against a judgment can then be lodged with the International Court of Appeal of the Fia.

The delicate case is likely to drag on for even longer and burden the last few weeks of the season, which has already been decided with Verstappen's second title. The sticking point for the rule-keepers: If they don't judge hard enough, it reduces the deterrent effect of the budget limit. If they take drastic action, there could suddenly be another champion about a year after the Abu Dhabi scandal.

Announcement of the Fia reaction Red Bull Formula 1 financial rules

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