RED BULL have been found guilty of breaking F1's cost-cap rule – however their punishment will NOT see Lewis Hamilton handed last year's title.
The sport's governing body – the FIA – have finally published their analysis of the team's accounts for last season, which saw the introduction of the spending limit for the first time.
The amount was set at £114million for 2021 and was brought in to increase the competitiveness across the field, with top teams previously spending three times that amount to gain a massive advantage.
As a result, teams were forced to restructure their businesses to comply with the rules, however, despite being adamant that they were under the limit, Red Bull were found to be over it.
Amazingly, given the FIA's promise to provide increased transparency under the stewardship of new president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the report did not disclose the amount Red Bull went over.
However, it did amount to less than five percent (£5.7million) of the £114million total triggering a "minor" breach of the regulations.
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A list of possible penalties included stripping Verstappen of the title he won in 2021 in controversial circumstances, however, the punishment is now expected to be a fine.
It means he will retain both last year's and the title he clinched on Sunday in Japan.
Red Bull do have a right to appeal but are expected to cough up the penalty in a decision that will leave their rivals furious.
Key figures at rivals Ferrari and Mercedes feel the term "minor" is misleading, for any breach of the cost cap is still a performance benefit.
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So, should Red Bull argue their sums were over due to including sick pay and providing free food for staff in their canteen, their rivals would suggest that money could be spent on car development.
At Suzuka on Sunday Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto interestingly said his team's designs were "cars that have been developed maintaining and respecting the budget cap itself".
He said: "We know how much, even if it's a minor breach, it would have implied in terms of performance.
"I mentioned $5m (£4.5m) is about half a second, even one or two million is about one or two-tenths which is about from being second on the grid or being on pole and maybe having the fastest car.
"Obviously it's about 2021. It's an advantage you gain over the following seasons."
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton said the previous week that even a $300,000 (£270k) additional spend could have changed the outcome of the 2021 battle.
At the Singapore GP he said: "I remember last year in Silverstone we had our last upgrade and fortunately it was great and we could fight with it.
If we had spent $300,000 on a new floor or an adapted wing it would have changed the outcome of the championship
"But then we would see Red Bull every weekend or every other weekend bringing upgrades. They had, I think, at least four more upgrades from that point.
"If we had spent $300,000 on a new floor or an adapted wing it would have changed the outcome of the championship, naturally, because we would have been in better competition in the next race you had it on."
Aston Martin, who were also rumoured to have over spent, were still issued with a compliance certificate despite filling in a form incorrectly.
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An FIA statement said that while Red Bull triggered a “minor” breach, both Aston Martin and Williams were guilty of a “procedural” breach.
A statement from the FIA said: “The FIA cost cap administration is currently determining the appropriate course of action to be taken under the financial regulations with respect to Aston Martin and Red Bull and further information will be communicated in compliance with the regulations.”
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