Red Bull boss Christian Horner and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem held talks in the United States GP paddock on Friday, although the wait continues for any form of cost cap announcement.
Horner and Ben Sulayem met for around 15 minutes between practice sessions, almost certainly discuss the subject that hangs a cloud over Formula 1 and it’s 19th round of the season in Austin, Texas.
But while seemingly everyone wants a swift resolution, there has no further details on a punishment for Red Bull for the ‘minor’ breach of the $145m spending limit from Max Verstappen’s maiden title victory last year, nor the terms they have been offered by the FIA.
F1’s governing body has proposed an ‘accepted breach agreement’ to the sport’s fastest team.
Red Bull could accept the terns, which would see them admit their error but likely receive a lesser punishment, or go before an adjudication panel to try and prove the innocence they have always maintained.
Red Bull had been hoping to meet with F1’s governing body earlier and hold their own press conference on Friday morning in Texas to stress their case, although the Horner-Ben Sulayem meeting came too late in the day.
Horner is, however, set to speak to the media on Saturday in what is set to be a must-watch team principals’ press conference.
Live F1 Team Principal Press Conference
October 22, 2022, 5:25pm
Horner is lined up alongside McLaren boss Zak Brown and Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto in the Saturday briefing, which is live on Sky Sports F1 from 5.25pm in a special broadcast.
The press conference is particularly feisty because it was Brown who wrote the letter shortly after Red Bull’s overspend was revealed that said a cost cap breach constituted “cheating” and insisting on a harsh punishment.
What’s the latest in the cost cap drama?
The latest in the cost cap saga is, as mentioned above, that Red Bull have an offer of the table in form of an accepted breach agreement (ABA).
The details of which are so far unclear, but what we do know is that a points deduction or a reduction in the team’s future cost cap would not be on the table should Red Bull agree to the ABA.
If Red Bull reject the FIA’s offer, the case would be heard by the cost cap panel and the full range of penalties would be on the table.
The scale of Red Bull’s breach has not been revealed although Sky Sports understands the team, who could wrap up their first constructors’ title in almost a decade this weekend, are $1.8m over the cap.
Sky Sports has also learned more details of where Red Bull fell foul of the budget.
They include catering costs, and redundancy and sick pay issues for employees.
A big factor in Red Bull’s overspend is also understood to be the costs of unused spare parts for their car.
Russell: Red Bull breach ‘hurtful, almost disrespectful’
Friday was the weekend’s first track day and as such there were few interviews on the cost cap, although Mercedes driver George Russell and Haas boss Guenther Steiner have provided fresh quotes to Sky Sports F1.
Russell, speaking to Sky Sports in a feature that will be played this weekend, said Red Bull’s breach was “very hurtful” to those who had been made redundant by teams trying to stick to the cap.
“If there’s a ruleset there it needs to be stuck to,” Russell told Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz. “You’ve got nine, or eight, teams that have worked incredibly hard to stick to those rules, compromised many things, people being made redundant. You’ve got development there ready to go but the finances aren’t there because you’d go over the cost cap.
“To then learn that some people have ignored those regulations and done as they please is obviously very hurtful and almost disrespectful in a way to so many people who have put the time and effort in to stay with in it, who have lost their jobs because of it.
“We’re going to find out what the FIA needs to do, but I trust in them to do what is right. If not, I don’t know what it means for the cost cap but I think it’s in everyone’s interest for this sport that it gets dealt with properly.”
Steiner, meanwhile, said: “The penalty needs to be severe enough that he doesn’t repeat it and we need to learn what can be better done going forward.
“I am more for the future because retrospectively what can be done, all the parts have been held, all the races are done and you change a few lines in a book.
“Going forward that would be a better penalty in my opinion.”