Fred Vasseur says ‘forget minor and major’ as he calls for tougher cost cap penalties

Frédéric Vasseur as new Ferrari team boss. December 2022 Credit: Alamy
Frédéric Vasseur as new Ferrari team boss. December 2022 Credit: Alamy

Fred Vasseur wants to see tougher penalties for anyone who breaches the budget cap, saying that no matter how big, a breach is “mega.”

Red Bull and Aston Martin became the centre of attention in the latter half of the 2022 season when it emerged they were the second and third teams to break the budget cap.

However, while Aston Martin’s procedural breach was the same as Williams’ was earlier in the year, Red Bull had overspent by enough of a margin for it to have been deemed a “minor” breach.

Red Bull were found to have overspent by $1.8 million during the 2021 season with the bulk of that coming as a result of the mislabelling of a UK tax refund.

As a result of their overspend, Red Bull were fined $7 million alongside a 10% reduction of their wind tunnel time for the 2023 season and that seemingly put the matter to bed.

But there are those who would have wished for a harsher penalty, including new Ferrari boss Vasseur. Speaking to before news of his move to the Scuderia was announced, he said that the FIA needed be “more strict” and that any overspend was “mega.”

“[The cost cap is] by far the best regulation that we introduced in F1,” the 54-year-old said.

“Where we have to work today, firstly, it was far too long. We need to find a way to have a red light before, or to be able to take action much earlier.

“And we have to probably be a bit more strict on the decision. Okay, perhaps this was the first one, but from now we have to forget about minor and major. Because for me, two or three million, it’s not minor, it’s mega, for development.

“I think we have to be much more strict and much more quick on the action.”

Vasseur did however praise the FIA’s head of financial regulations, Federico Lodi, and his team for their work overseeing the first year of the cost cap.

“I would say the cost cap administration and Federico Lodi did a mega job,” he said. “We don’t have to forget it.”

Negative press enough of a warning for no team to overspend in the future

While the merits of Red Bull’s $7 million fine and wind tunnel time reduction can be debated, it seems more likely that the negative press they received will act as a far bigger deterrent.

For a few weeks, Red Bull, rightly or wrongly, became the centre of wild rumours and accusations with some saying they should be stripped of titles and deducted Championship points.

For a minor overspend, that was never likely but the speculation was surely enough to create less than an ideal work environment, Christian Horner said as much.

Red Bull no doubt had their fingers burned and became the unwanted poster team for the cost cap, but the events that played out has made one thing clear for every team on the grid, do not fly too close to the sun.

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