It will be ‘game over’ for Formula 1’s cost cap if early monetary breaches are not adequately handled, says Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies, whose team wants ‘tough action’ be taken for any violation.

The FIA ​​is set to announce that two teams – believed by several F1 figures to be Red Bull and Aston Martin – have breached the budget cap rule for the 2021 season, with details confirmed likely next Wednesday.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has previously strongly denied any wrongdoing by his company and said he was “very confident” in Red Bull’s cost cap submission. He also suggested Red Bull could take action following remarks from rival teams.

And the FIA ​​was made to issue a statement on the assessment of the teams’ financial data for 2021 in which it noted “significant and unsubstantiated speculation and conjecture on this matter” and that “due process will be followed regardless of account of any external discussion”. .

Infractions are defined as “minor” or “material”, with sanction options for the first tier ranging from reprimands to point deductions, suspensions from “stages” of events but not the races themselves, and limitations on future aerodynamic or other tests and/or a reduction in the following year’s cost cap.

“Minor” overruns are overruns of less than 5% of the cap (approximately $7.25 million).

Race bans or exclusion from the championship could also be considered for “material” breaches.

The FIA ​​has deliberately not been specific with the precise penalties that particular infractions might incur, as it does not want teams to be able to judge whether a penalty is actually severe enough to outweigh the competitive advantage of any infraction.

“It’s a very vital test for the cost cap,” Mekies said of how the 2021 breaches will be handled.

“And if we don’t pass that test, it’s probably game over, because the implications are huge.”

Although he clarified that he was not talking about specific actions by any team at this stage with nothing officially confirmed, Mekies said Ferrari was “very eager to have a clear and transparent assessment of what happened” and wants to see “this serious action taken in the event of a breach”.

Laurent Mekies Ferrari F1

Asked by The Race if Ferrari had been concerned about how the first cost cap breach would be handled, Mekies replied: “Have we been concerned? Yes. The worry comes from the fact that if you think about the level of constraints that have been imposed on the big teams, you realize how long the lap will be if you don’t strictly enforce it.

“Because we were massively constrained, so any million, any leak you allow in the budget cap is going to turn into tenths of a second on the car.”

He described the financial regulations in place now as having more of an impact on a team’s performance than technical or sporting regulations “if you think about the amount of lap time that’s in that kind of [financial] numbers,” suggesting that, for example, a $7 million breach would equate to “70 engineers” and that “70 engineers would give you some serious lap time.”

While worried that a mishandled penalty situation could fatally undermine the budget cap, Mekies stressed that Ferrari wanted the system to remain in place.

“There are many advantages to having the budget cap,” he said.

“So we are fully in favor of this concept, of applying it as harshly and transparently as possible because that is the way to go, as long as we manage to pass this stress test.”

When asked by The Race what he thought about the prospect of F1 moving from deterring the level of penalty for cap breach being unknown but potentially severe, to knowing exactly how a certain transgression would be handled and being able to work with that in mind, Mekies replied, “That’s pretty much why we insist on transparency and toughness, because if it turns out to be something a team can bet in order to gain a competitive advantage, especially in the very first instance where the budget cap is challenged, you need that toughness”.

Guenther Steiner Frederic Vasseur Laurent Mekies F1

Mekies was speaking at a Singapore Grand Prix press conference alongside Haas and Alfa Romeo team principals Guenther Steiner and Frederic Vasseur.

When asked if this case could be about revealed loopholes, all three argued that the way the rules were collaboratively crafted and challenged should have ruled that out.

“Regarding the loopholes, we’ve had two years now to discuss it with the FIA ​​and I think we’ve had a clarification on the financial regulations almost every week,” Vasseur said.

“Teams ask the FIA ​​questions and they answer everyone, and if we had a gray area, I think it was also our job to ask for clarification.

Mekies said “I don’t think loopholes are an issue right now” given the process the teams went through.

“We have been talking non-stop with the FIA ​​for two years now,” he added.

Laurent Mekies Ferrari F1 Singapore GP

“It was a new regulation. We pretty much had the FIA ​​living with us in our factories, going back and forth with questions and clarifications every week.

“So it’s not about trying to find loopholes and exploit them and hope no one finds out.

“It’s that whenever there were questions, we put the question to the FIA ​​like every team would and they would give an answer, and that’s how we moved forward.

He also cautioned against responding to any violations being passed on to other teams through the retrospectively adjusted rules.

“What we don’t want is for the rule to change in the middle of the season and for us to find a compromise and suddenly the rules of engagement to be different, not only with regard to the 2021 season but in consequence for 2022 as well and maybe for 2023. So that’s key,” Mekies said.

Carlos Sainz Ferrari F1 Singapore GP

With the expected infractions taking place in the 2021 season, questions have also arisen as to whether penalties should be applied to this year’s results or penalties given that transgressors will be restricted in future seasons.

While Steiner joked that ‘there should be penalties for the past, for the future, forever’ if a team broke the budget cap rules, Mekies echoed the Mercedes chief’s position. , Toto Wolff, that an offense in 2021 could also benefit a team for subsequent seasons. .

“What advantage do you carry for the next championship? Mekies said. “It’s probably the first [question] whose answer we want.

“So if there was a breach in 2021, what benefit was carried over to 2022 and 2023?

“And then you can discuss the timing of the penalty and how you make sense of the penalty.”

As heads of small operations operating below the budget cap, Steiner and Vasseur suggested that protecting the cap was vital to the survival of their teams.

“I think financial regulation has been the biggest move in F1 in the last 20 years and we don’t have to jeopardize something like that for lack of a decision,” Vasseur said of the prospect of a result that other teams perceive as inadequate. .

“For me, if it’s the end of the cost cap, it’s not the end of F1 but almost.”

Steiner said he was confident that FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem would make sure “we don’t water down the budget cap for the future”, saying “Formula 1 is where it is now, partly because of the budget cap, so if we start to water down this regulation it will not be good for the sport in my opinion”.