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Red Bull rivals hit back at ‘inadequate’ cost cap penalties

Red Bull’s rivals insisted on Saturday that the punishment meted out for their breach of Formula One’s $145 million cost cap last year was “very limited” and unlikely to act as a deterrent.

Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren led the way, making clear their unhappiness with the outcome of the saga after the sport’s governing body the FIA had fined Red Bull $7 million and given them a 10 percent cut in permitted aerodynamic testing.

Red Bull team chief Christian Horner said on Friday the sanctions were “enormous” and “draconian”, descriptions that were derided by some in the paddock at the Mexico Grand Prix.

Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies said the Italian team felt the punishment did not fit the crime.

McLaren team chief Andreas Seidl said he was so disillusioned by the outcome that he did not bother listening to Horner’s reaction.

“I didn’t listen to it because I can imagine it was another fairytale,” said Seidl. “I’m not really interested in that.

“In the end, on a positive side, I think it’s good to see the FIA did a good job in terms of doing the audit. Nine teams got it right and it was clear one team was in breach, so that’s a positive outcome. 

“But on a negative side, it’s also clear, from my point of view, that the penalty doesn’t fit the breach. I just hope moving forward we have stricter penalties in place.” 

In an interview with Sky Sports Italia, Mekies said: “We have talked a lot in recent weeks about what one can do with half a million (dollars) more or a million or two or three.

“Two million is a significant amount and we have given our opinion several times on this topic. We at Ferrari think that this amount is worth around a couple of tenths—so it’s easy to understand that these figures can have a real impact on the outcome of the races and maybe even a championship.

“As for the penalty, we are not happy with it, for two important reasons. The first is that we at Ferrari do not understand how the 10 percent reduction can correspond to the same amount of lap time.

“Furthermore, there is another problem in that, since there is no budget cap reduction in the penalty, the basic effect is to push the competitor to spend the money elsewhere.

“It has total freedom to use the money it can no longer spend on use of the wind tunnel due to the 10 percent reduction, on reducing the weight of the car or who knows what else.”

Horner claimed on Friday that Red Bull would lose up to half a second in lap time next year as a result of the penalties, but this was dismissed by Mercedes’ Shovlin.

“Maybe two-tenths at the upper end is more realistic,” said Shovlin. “Reducing the number of runs (in a wind tunnel) does limit your freedom in developing a concept, but we’re in reasonably well-explored regulations now.

“You definitely need to be more efficient, but if it were half a second, which I’d heard mentioned, then a team at the back of the grid would have over a three-second advantage to one at the front and that simply isn’t the case.”

Formula One boss Stefano Domenicali defended the punishment, in an interview with AFP. “The FIA took a decision, technical in nature, that we must respect and now we have to look at what can be done to improve the system,” he said.

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