Max Verstappen makes subtle dig at Lewis Hamilton in April
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The majority of F1 fans feel as though Max Verstappen and Red Bull should be banned from races next season if the team are found guilty of breaching cost cap rules again. The FIA handed them a fine and a reduction in wind tunnel time for doing just that in 2021, leading to an angry response from rival drivers and bosses.
The £114million spending limit was introduced at the start of the 2021 season in the hope of giving smaller teams a chance of keeping up with the big guns, as well as making F1 more financially sustainable. As a new addition, exactly how the FIA would punish offenders remained unknown.
All eyes were therefore on the sport’s governing body when the end-of-year audit revealed that Red Bull had overspent. The worst case scenario for Max Verstappen would have been docked points from his 2021 total, which saw him narrowly defeat Lewis Hamilton with a last-gasp Abu Dhabi overtake.
In the end, the FIA dished out a £6m fine and a 10 per cent reduction in wind tunnel time for the 2023 season with many claiming that Red Bull got off lightly for a breach that could have been the difference between winning and losing a world title.
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In a recent survey, Express Sport readers have had their say and a decisive 61.4 per cent of respondents believe that teams should be banned, rather than fined, in future cases. More than 4,000 people responded with less than 40 per cent agreeing that a fine is sufficient.
It remains to be seen whether the FIA change their approach next season if the 2022 audit finds another team has overstepped the mark. Despite the outcry from his rivals, Red Bull boss Christian Horner claimed that the penalty imposed was deceptively tough.
“The amount of speculation, commenting and sniping that has been going on in the paddock, we felt that it was in everybody’s interest – our interest, the FIA’s interest, in F1’s interest – to say, ‘we close the book’, and we close the book here and today,” he said during a dedicated press conference earlier this year.
“We accept the penalties, begrudgingly, but we accept them. The more draconian part is the sporting penalty, which is a 10 per cent reduction in our ability to utilise our wind tunnel and aerodynamic tools. I’ve heard people reporting today that it’s an insignificant amount. Let me tell you now, that is an enormous amount. That represents anywhere between a quarter and half a second of a lap.”
Some believe that the advantage gained from Red Bull’s overspend in 2021 will have carried over into last season, when Verstappen romped to the Drivers’ Championship. Red Bull also convincingly took the team honours, stopping Mercedes’ dominant streak of eight titles in a row.
Verstappen is aiming to make it a hat-trick of world titles next campaign with Lewis Hamilton and his Silver Arrows partner, George Russell, attempting to close the distance after notching just one win between them in 2022. Ferrari will also try to disrupt the party with new team principal Frederic Vasseur at the helm.
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