Mercedes and Red Bull accused of exploiting budget cap loopholes by Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer

F1 Grand Prix of Brazil - Practice
Otmar feels Red Bull and Mercedes are exploiting the budget gap.

Mercedes and Red Bull have been accused of exploiting the loopholes in the budget by Alpine boss Otmar Szafneur.

To make the sport viable for new teams with limited resources and improve competition, a budget cap was introduced in the 2021 season, where teams were supposed to not spend beyond a certain threshold. Red Bull were found guilty of breaching the cost cap in the 2021 season and will serve a penalty this season.

As part of the penalty, Red Bull face a 10% deduction in their allotted development time for the 2023 season. The Alpine boss, though, feels that teams like Mercedes and Red Bull are benefitting from the loopholes in the cost cap regulations. He said:

"When everyone’s the right size, you lose that. You lose that a little bit. What some of the other bigger teams are now doing is they’re looking to exploit or have a better understanding of where there are loopholes or some organisational changes you can make to actually stuff more people under that budget cap."

He added:

“They’re looking at, ‘Yeah, I got rid of a hundred people, but now I want to hire back because under the budget cap I was able to find spots for them where they either don’t count as a whole person or they do some marketing stuff or whatever it is, or they work on a boat for some of the time’."

Red Bull suspicious of Mercedes' rate of progress in 2022 season

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has raised a few question marks over the rate of growth shown by Mercedes last season.

The German team was more than half a second slower than Horner's team at the start of the season, but by the end of it, Mercedes become a potent challenger at the front. Horner said:

“Under the budget cap, it has been surprising just the amount of development. We have had the least crashes and a moderate amount of development. But it has certainly been surprising the rate they have developed, particularly in the second half of the year. But that is F1. When you consider where they were in Bahrain to where they were at the end of the year, it was a big step."

It's safe to say that, as the regulations are quite young and complex, it won't be a surprise to see a few teams breaching the cost cap in the 2022 season too.

Even though the severity of the Austrian team's penalty should be a deterrent, it's tough to be confident about what the cost cap situation would be for other teams.

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Edited by Bhargav