Red Bull Racing has dismissed suggestions it overspent last year and breached Formula 1's Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA), as behind-the-scenes efforts continue to try and frame fresh cost restraints for 2011.
Members of the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) have been pushing hard in recent weeks to sign off a fresh RRA to run from 2011-2017, after the outline framework for such a deal was agreed at last year's Singapore Grand Prix. Those efforts have so far failed, however, amid a lack of consensus about amendments to the original deal. These are understood to include which areas of teams' spending should be within the RRA, including KERS development; how long the period of review for overspending should be, and how any penalties for overspending should be dealt with.
Sources suggest that Red Bull Racing has been particularly vocal in the most recent FOTA meetings about clamping down on areas of spending outside the RRA, and in pushing for changes in the review period for overspending and how penalties are dealt with when there is a breach. That stance prompted former FIA president Max Mosley to suggest at the end of last year that the only reason Red Bull Racing may have wanted such changes was because it overspent on its way to the title double last year.
Mosley told Auto Motor Und Sport: "Red Bull asked for an exception. If that's true, that can only mean they spent more than they were allowed, and now they're asking for the [other] teams' approval. I am interested to know how their opponents are going to react."
Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner insists, however, that such claims of overspend are wide of the mark. He says that his team came within the budget limit that it agreed to for 2010, with teams' accounts having now been lodged with FOTA, and that any push it is making for changes is simply because it wants the RRA to be fair for everyone.
"The RRA has been a positive thing for Formula 1 - as it has genuinely saved costs," Horner told AUTOSPORT. "Contrary to speculation, we completely adhered to the RRA within 2010 – and Red Bull Racing had only perhaps the third- or fourth-largest budget in Formula 1. We've achieved great efficiency in reducing the headcount versus our external spend.
"We are all in favor of containing costs moving forward, and the RRA is a good way of achieving that – as long as it is consistent, fair, equitable and transparent across all the activities of all the teams. We don't want to turn the formula into a power-train dictated championship.
"It is much like squeezing a balloon. You don't want to squeeze one end of it only to find that all the air is simply shooting to another position."
When the framework for the current RRA was agreed at last year's Singapore Grand Prix it was hailed as a major breakthrough for the teams, because there had been a danger of the cost plans falling apart. If no agreement is reached on the current deal, then teams will in theory have to revert to operating under the original RRA, which ran from 2010 through 2012.
Speaking about the deal that was agreed in Singapore, FOTA chairman Martin Whitmarsh said last year, "I think it was a good step forward in terms of trying to manage the resources in F1 and trying to create stability, and an improvement on that approach."
Further meetings of FOTA's leading members will be held before the start of the season to try and gain a consensus and get the new RRA into place. FOTA secretary general Simone Perillo declined to comment on the state of negotiations regarding the RRA, but told AUTOSPORT he was "confident an agreement will be reached."