Lewis Hamilton says the FIA should hand Red Bull the red card for breaking the 2021 cost cap measure that was introduced in 2021. After Max Verstappen wrapped up his second driver’s title in Japan, 24 hours later the FIA revealed their delayed report into which the team did or didn’t meet their obligations to stay within budget. Rumors circulated in the run-up to the report being released that Red Bull had overspent, by how much was unknown. The rules state that teams have a 5-percent overspend limit which is considered a minor breach of the rules.
However, with the annual budget for spending set at $145 per team, that minor overspend can be up to $7M, giving a compelling performance advantage. More recent rumors suggest Red Bull went over budget by around $2M which still gives a significant on-track advantage. The problem is the rules bizarrely accommodate that 5% overspend but it comes with the proviso of being hit with penalties. And this is where the whole situation gets problematic, why did teams agree to the 5% overspend limit?
Red Bull simply pushed the rules to its legal limits and rouletted that the breach would be considered minor enough to receive nothing more than a slap on the wrists. However, FIA Technical Director Ross Brawn is on record as saying that any minor breach is unacceptable and harsh penalties and measures will be enforced.
Red Bull can simply say they were following the rules, which initially they didn’t do instead they opted to lie and threaten defamation lawsuits prior to being found out. In the build-up to the 2022 American Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton has given thoughts on the crisis, saying that FIA must be seen to act with integrity or the cost cap is reduced to nothing more than a redundant ideology:
Speaking during a press conference, Hamilton said:
“I am just focused on doing the best job I can, and what they have done is done. I am looking forward, and looking at how I can win another world championship.”
“I do believe the sport has to do something about this because if the FIA are quite relaxed with these rules then all the teams will just go over [the budget] and spend millions more,” Hamilton told reporters in Austin, Texas ahead of the United States Grand Prix.”
“I do believe Mohammed [FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem] and his team will make the right decisions. I have to believe that. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt.”
“Only getting a slap on the wrist is not great for the sport. They might as well not have a cost cap in future.”