Is Newey at the center of Red Bull's cost cap breach?

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Speculation has emerged that Red Bull chief technology officer Adrian Newey could be at the center of Red Bull's cost cap breach.

Following the FIA's audit of teams' accounts, Red Bull was found guilty of breaching Formula 1's financial regulations in 2021.

However, the governing body has classified Red Bull's transgression as "minor", meaning it represents less than 5% of the team's $145 million maximum budget, or less than $7.5 million.

A report last week from Dutch outlet De Telegraaf claimed that the bulk of Red Bull's overspend – estimated at between $1m and $2m – was linked to catering fees, free lunch for its over 1,000 members of staff, as well as to illness and absent employees.

But a new report from Ziggo Sport suggests the financial over-run could rooted in a dispute between Red Bull and the FIA over Newey's professional relationship with the Milton Keynes-based outfit.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB18. 08.10.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 18, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Qualifying

F1's financial regulations exclude from the cost cap a team's top-three highest paid executives. As the man who oversees Red Bull's successful design department, Newey is paid big bucks to apply his genius and brilliance.

But technically, the British engineer is not an employee of Red Bull as his services are acquired by the team via Newey's engineering firm which is contracted to Red Bull.

Therefore, the retainer paid to Newey – or rather to his company – should not be excluded from the team's cost cap accounts.

"It probably has to do with Adrian Newey," said Ziggo. "Newey is one of the top three earners in the team and the debate is over whether Newey is a Red Bull employee or a name on loan through his own company.

"Red Bull says ‘he is employed by us’ so he’s not included in the budget cap because he’s one of the three highest-paid names.

"The FIA said: ‘No, he was hired through his company, so he comes from outside, so he should be included in the budget cap’."

The FIA has yet to offer any specific information on the magnitude of Red Bull's breach, but both Mercedes and Ferrari have argued that an overspend of just $2 million could help a car gain an advantage over its rivals.

Furthermore, the governing body has also not revealed the sanction facing Red Bull. But in a letter addressed to the FIA by McLaren Racing boss Zak Brown, the American argues that transgressing F1's financial rules "constitutes cheating".

Brown therefore urges the FIA to consider not only a financial penalty but also a sporting sanction.

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