The FIA finally verified on Monday, after weeks of rumors, that Aston Martin and Red Bull had over the Formula 1 cost cap last season.
What will happen to the cost cap rule violators in F1?
However, rather than this being the conclusion of a process that has been in the public eye for some time, what happens next could be more exciting as the governing body advances toward potential fines.
With F1's Financial Regulations specifying the formal process that must be followed, the situation is almost certainly going to be drawn out.
In addition, the procedural violations committed by Aston Martin and Red Bull will result in a different range of sanctions than the small expenditure violation committed by the Milton Keynes-based team.
Accepted Breach of Contract
The initial recourse available to Aston Martin and Red Bull is known as an Accepted Breach Agreement (ABA).
This is when the teams acknowledge their wrongdoing and agree to comply with the actions taken by the FIA's Cost Cap Administration.
To proceed with an ABA, teams must admit they violated the rules, accept and abide by any penalties imposed, agree to cover costs, and forgo any rights to contest the ABA.
The ABA may then impose responsibilities on the team, arrange for heightened surveillance, levy financial penalties and some minor sporting sanctions, as well as establish the costs the teams must bear.
As an incentive for going the ABA way, teams deemed deserving of a minor sporting punishment will not lose constructors' championship points, drivers' championship points, or a decrease in the cost cap if they contest the cost cap decision.
This leaves only the potential of a public reprimand, suspension from one or more competitive stages (except the race), or restrictions on aerodynamic and other testing.
Cost Cap Evaluation Board
If Aston Martin and Red Bull do not accept an ABA, or if the FIA determines that this option is inappropriate, a hearing of the Cost Cap Adjudication Panel will be scheduled.
This panel is comprised of six to twelve judges elected by the FIA General Assembly, who will then hear the specifics of the proceedings, including the teams' representation and any relevant witnesses.
After the hearing, a majority of the judges must determine whether the defendant is guilty or not. In the event of a tie, the president of the hearing will have a second, tie-breaking vote.
The panel will then administer any discipline specified in the regulations.
If a guilty team is not satisfied with the verdict, they may file an appeal with the FIA's International Court of Appeal.
The potential consequences for teams in violation of the financial regulations are spelled out in the rules.
The rules stipulate that a monetary penalty will be assessed for violations of the procedural norms, such as late submissions, a refusal to comply with the Cost Cap Administration, or the provision of false information.
The only exception to this rule is if there are sufficient mitigating reasons for no further action to be taken, or if there was a sufficient aggravating element, in which case a minor sporting punishment may be imposed in addition to or in lieu of the financial penalty.
The Cost Cap panel can impose a financial penalty and/or a small sporting penalty for Red Bull's minor overspending, which is defined as being less than 5% over the cap.
The rules stipulate six choices that qualify as minor sporting penalties.
These include a public reprimand, a deduction of constructors' championship points, a deduction of drivers' championship points, a suspension from one or more stages of a competition (except the race), restrictions on aerodynamic or other testing, or a decrease in the cost cap.