Zak Brown: Formula 1 budget cap breach is basically 'cheating'

McLaren CEO Zak Brown has joined a number of key F1 figures by expressing his dismay over the 2021 Red Bull F1 budget cap breach, in a letter to the FIA and Formula 1, describing it as 'cheating'.

In 2020 the F1 budget cap was initially brought in to limit teams to spending $145 million per season from 2021 and the figure would decrease by $5 million over the following two years.

The FIA revealed this month in its financials for 2021 that Red Bull, Aston Martin and Williams were the three teams not to receive their compliance certificates.

This means the three teams committing procedural breaches of the regulations. Red Bull were also said to have made a small overspend breach of under five percent of the total permitted budget, which amounts to $7.25m.

So far, some representatives from other F1 teams have commented on the breach - Ferrari Sporting Director Laurent Mekies said there should be "far-reaching consequences" and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff called the breach of the cost cap regulations a "heavyweight" offence.

BBC Sport have put up a copy of Zak Brown's quotes from his letter sent to the F1 and FIA, plus what he thinks needs to be done.

"The overspend breach, and possibly the procedural breaches, constitute cheating by offering a significant advantage across technical, sporting and financial regulations," Brown's letter reads.

"The FIA has run an extremely thorough, collaborative and open process. We have even been given a one-year dress rehearsal (in 2020), with ample opportunity to seek any clarification if details were unclear. So, there is no reason for any team to now say they are surprised.

"The bottom line is any team who has overspent has gained an unfair advantage both in the current and following year's car development.

"We don't feel a financial penalty alone would be a suitable penalty for an overspend breach or a serious procedural breach. There clearly needs to be a sporting penalty in these instances, as determined by the FIA.

"We suggest that the overspend should be penalised by way of a reduction to the team's cost cap in the year following the ruling, and the penalty should be equal to the overspend plus a further fine - ie an overspend of $2m in 2021, which is identified in 2022, would result in a $4m deduction in 2023 ($2m to offset the overspend plus $2m fine).

"For context, $2m is (a) 25-50% upgrade to (an) annual car-development budget and hence would have a significant positive and long-lasting benefit.

"In addition, we believe there should be minor overspend sporting penalties of a 20% reduction in CFD and wind tunnel time. These should be enforced in the following year, to mitigate against the unfair advantage the team has and will continue to benefit from."

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