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Red Bull F1 Boss Blasts Rivals Over Cheating Accusations – Sports Illustrated

AUSTIN—Red Bull team principal Christian Horner didn’t mince words when addressing the cheating allegations from rivals regarding the team’s cost cap breach. 
The FIA announced on Oct. 10 that both Red Bull and Aston Martin breached the cost cap regulations, both in a procedural capacity but Red Bull also had “minor” overspending. The punishment is still to be determined, but several team bosses across the paddock have been outspoken about how there should be stiff penalties. 
A “minor overspend” is considered to be any figure less than 5% of last year’s $145 million cap, which is roughly $7.25 million.  
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown wrote a letter to the FIA, Formula One’s governing body, on Oct. 12 and took a hard stance on the matter, saying it “constitutes cheating.” BBC initially reported the details of the letter, which included Brown wanting Red Bull to face penalties that hit them financially as well as on track. 
However, it did not mention Red Bull or Aston Martin by name. 
“The overspend breach, and possibly the procedural breaches, constitute cheating by offering a significant advantage across technical, sporting and financial regulations,” Brown wrote, in part. “The FIA has run an extremely thorough, collaborative and open process. We have even been given a one-year dress rehearsal (in 2020), with ample opportunity to seek any clarification if details were unclear. So, there is no reason for any team to now say they are surprised.
“The bottom line is any team who has overspent has gained an unfair advantage both in the current and following year’s car development.”
Red Bull is reportedly in talks with the FIA about a possible Accepted Breach Agreement, but Horner shot down the idea that the team benefitted by the breach. In fact, he said there was “zero benefit,” at least from a development and operational aspect.  
“We’re in discussion with the FIA about what those costs are and what are mitigating potential circumstances,” Horner said Saturday. “We had zero benefit from a development perspective or an operational perspective either for 2021 or 2022 from the way that we operated within the cap. Our submission was significantly below the cap.
“We expected certain things to be potentially challenged or clarified, as is the process in a brand-new set of regulations. But based on external, professional accounting third parties, the interpretation of those rules, of a 52-page document to police this, we were very clear from our side.
“So we absolutely and categorically don’t feel we had any advantage in 2021 or 2022 or ’23 or ’24, or some teams are even talking about ’26, [which] is totally fictitious.”
He went on to call the letter “tremendously disappointing” and described how the team has “been on trial because of public accusations since Singapore,” which is when the speculation of their overspend began spreading. 
“The rhetoric of cheats, that we’ve had this enormous benefit, and numbers have been put out by the media that are miles out of reality,” Horner said. “The damage that does to the brand, to our partners, to our drivers, to our workforce… in an age when mental health is prevalent, we’re seeing significant issues within our workforce. We’re seeing kids that are being bullied in playgrounds, employees’ children.”
He added, “You cannot go around just making that kind of allegation from any fact or substance. We absolutely are appalled at the behavior of some of our competitors.”
Horner went on to cite a rule tweak that occurred in June, three months after all teams turned in the final accounts of last season. The clarification adjusted how unused parts were assessed, which “had a seven-digit effect on our submission.” 
“Once this situation is concluded, there will be complete transparency and I will talk you through the reasoning behind our submission and  the position that we had of why we felt each of the line items that have been challenged we believe there is a contrary position,” Horner said. “The whole thing should be transparent. There is going to be no private, secret deal. It will all be absolutely above board.”
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