Mercedes and Red Bull have both left the door ajar for the FIA to check if they have used a loophole to exploit the cost cap regulations.
With FIA’s new technical directive called TD45, the governing body is aiming to keep a tight check on whether teams are adhering to the budget cap as they gather IP from non-F1 projects.
Mercedes technical director James Allison was recently involved in INEOS’ America’s Cup sailing project, while Red Bull’s Adrian Newey also worked away from the F1 team.
The spotlight has firmly been cast on these two teams in particular, as well as others who have used a similar approach.
However, Mercedes and Red Bull both feel they have nothing to fear and have stated that they are fully compliant with the regulations in place.
“We have one entity, and that same entity does all the F1 work and does some of the non-F1 work, where America’s Cup is the biggest activity for some of our non-F1 customers,” Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said.
“All is transparent. All the books are open. We haven’t created any subsidiaries, or any other companies, and there are no cross-shareholdings. All is on the table.
“In that respect, we have nothing to hide. Every detail of our non-F1 work is being put open to the FIA, and I hope we can be a role model to other teams.”
Wolff believes that while his team is not guilty of manipulating the rules, there are others on the grid that have abused the existing loophole. He has backed the FIA to impose strict penalties for any defaulters.
Asked if he feels other teams have used this loophole, Wolff said, “I think so. Yes.
“But the work that the FIA has put into auditing us was big work and big effort, and I have no doubt that they are going to do the same with the other teams.
“If someone has been cavalier or has cheated, then they’re going to find out.”
Red Bull has gone over the budget cap previously, but believes that they have played by the rules this season.
The team’s boss Chrsitian Horner has welcomed the FIA to investigate into their dealings as he believes they have nothing to hide.
“We’ve had a very constructive period with the FIA and, as an organisation now, we have a huge amount of process in place regarding compliance,” Horner said.
“As the regulations and things like TD45 firm up and become regulatory, it actually just creates more clarity.
“I think the problem in the early days is in the ambiguity of a brand-new set of regulations. As the regulations mature in many respects, it becomes more straightforward.”
“We haven’t had to make any changes as a result of TD45.
“Obviously all the business structures are very different. For example, Ferrari act as one company with the entire road car business. So, their submission is somewhat different to the teams that are just purely focused on F1.
“At Red Bull, we have Red Bull Racing, we have Red Bull Powertrains, Red Bull Advanced Technologies and we have Red Bull Advanced Services. So, there’s a series of companies that all have to interact with each other.
“But we’ve worked closely with the FIA, and they’ve done a very thorough job.”
The FIA has been far stricter about the budget cap this season, with some teams reportedly receiving a questionnaire with over 100 sub-parts asking them about the specifics of their costs.