Christian Horner: Red Bull won't apologise for budget cap breach

MEXICO CITY -- Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes his team is owed an apology for the way it was treated following its breach of last year's budget cap, but said he would "begrudgingly" accept the penalty issued by the FIA.

Red Bull was fined $7 million and faces a 10% reduction in its aerodynamic testing allowance for the next 12 months after the FIA found it exceeded the $145 million budget cap by 1.6%.

The verdict considered a tax credit that was not included by Red Bull as part of its accounts submission but would have reduced its overspend to just 0.37% had it been factored in.

In accepting the FIA's penalty as part of an accepted breach agreement (ABA), Red Bull acknowledged it had broken the sport's financial regulations and waived its right to appeal the penalty.

However, when asked if he thought his team should apologise for its breach of the budget cap, Horner turned the question on its head and said it was owed an apology.

"To be honest with you I think we're probably due an apology from some of our rivals for some of the claims they have made," Horner said. "We make no apology for the way that we've performed, the way that we've acted.

"We do take on the chin that there are lessons to be learned and potentially mistakes have been made in our submission, which with the benefit of hindsight with 20:20 vision everybody can be a specialist, but there was no intent. There was nothing dishonest and there was certainly no cheating involved, which has been alleged in certain areas. So I don't feel like we need to apologize.

"We've taken our pounding in public, we've taken a very public pounding through the accusations that have been made by other teams, we've had our drivers booed at circuits, and the reputational damage that has been made by allegations has been significant. The time is now for that to stop and to move on."

Horner said his team entered the ABA because it didn't want the issue to be dragged out for months in appeal tribunals.

"Had we dragged it out through the administration process to go to effectively appeal, that could take months and beyond that the appeal could have taken further months," he said. "So we could have been looking at 12-month period to have this situation closed and the amount of speculation, commenting and sniping going on in the paddock, it was in everyone's interest -- our interest, the FIA's interest and Formula One's interest -- to say we close the book and we close the book here and today. We accept the penalties, begrudgingly, but we accept them."

McLaren CEO Zak Brown wrote a letter to the FIA two weeks ago saying any breach of the budget cap would constitute "cheating" while calling for harsh punishments for any team that had overspent -- although he did not reference Red Bull directly.

Horner said he expects his rivals to continue to play down the significance of Red Bull's penalty.

"They have obviously been quick to talk in the media, some of them," Horner said. "I'm sure for them it won't be enough, I'm sure if you burned our wind tunnel down it wouldn't be enough.

"But this is a penalty that the FIA -- after an awful lot of dialogue with them -- they know the impact that it has on us. They see how the teams operate, they see the efficiency of their runs, this has a material impact on our car performance for next year."

Horner said the penalty would cost his team up to 0.5s of lap time next year when combined with Red Bull's already restricted wind tunnel time under F1's aerodynamic testing rules.

"The more draconian part is the sporting penalty, which is a 10% reduction on our ability to utilise our wind tunnel and aerodynamic tools. I've heard people reporting today that that is an insignificant amount, but let me tell you that is an enormous amount. That represents anywhere between 0.25s and 0.5s of lap time. That comes in from now, it has a direct effect on next year's car and it will be in place for a 12-month period.

"By winning the Constructors Championship we have become victims of our own success by, in addition to that 10%, having 5% incremental disadvantage or handicap compared to second and third place. So that 10% put into reality will have an impact on our ability to perform on track next year."