Mercedes, Ferrari say budget cap breach 'open secret' as Red Bull dismiss 'speculation'

Red Bull chief Christian Horner has described claims of the team breaking Formula One's $145million (£114m) budget cap as "speculation", though Ferrari and Mercedes state the situation is an "open secret".

Two teams have reportedly breached F1's spending regulations, one of which is by a "significant amount", and Red Bull have swiftly been attributed with guilt – although there is no proof.

Horner told BBC Sport that it was "purely speculation" and added to Sky Sports he was "not aware" of any breach.

"We are certainly not aware of any [breaches]. The accounts were all submitted way back in March, so it's been a long process with the FIA going through, and we are in that process as we speak," he said.

The FIA will issue certificates of compliance on October 5, or announce any breaches, but both Mercedes and Ferrari suggested there was an understanding on the grid that two teams are at risk of punishment.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff claimed one such party was "fundamentally massively over".

"There's a team in minor breach, which is more procedural, and another team that is fundamentally massively over and that is still being looked at," he said. "That's an open secret in the paddock."

And there was a similar view from Ferrari, with racing director Laurent Mekies saying: "It's now no secret that two teams broke the 2021 budget cap regulations, one by a significant amount, the other less so."

The situation creates a significant headache for the FIA, with the 2021 season already shrouded in controversy after Max Verstappen pipped Lewis Hamilton to the title in the final race in Abu Dhabi, with race director Michael Masi failing to implement the rules correctly after a late safety car.

Emergence of further controversy will not be welcomed, and questions will be asked as to why the results are so delayed, with F1 now in the back end of the 2022 season and Verstappen waltzing to a second title in a row.

Punishments for budget cap breaches can be severe, with potential points deductions for minor violations, while the heaviest punishment for a larger breach includes banning a team or driver.

A breach last year would also have a knock-on effect into the current campaign as the cap includes development of the car for the following season.