Red Bull 'CHEATED' by breaching F1 budget cap and Max Verstappen should be penalised, says McLaren boss in leaked letter | The Sun
17th October 2022

RED BULL effectively "CHEATED" their way to the 2021 championship title, according to McLaren chief Zak Brown.

In a leaked letter to Formula One's governing body, the FIA, Brown made it clear in no uncertain terms that he believed Red Bull should be punished severely for their breach of the cost cap in 2021.


Last week the FIA published their findings following the financial audit of teams in the 2021 F1 season.

And in doing so they found Red Bull to have gone over the £114million budget cap.

However, the transgression only resulted in a "minor" breach of the rules, therefore meaning the potential punishment will be on the leaner side – and thus preserving Max Verstappen's maiden title.

But this has not stopped Brown from lobbying the FIA to give out harsh punishments, as revealed in a leaked letter dated October 12 and sent to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

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He said: "The overspend breach, and possibly the procedural breaches, constitute cheating by offering a significant advantage across technical, sporting and financial regulations…

"We have even been given a one-year dress rehearsal (in 2020), with ample opportunity to seek any clarification if details were unclear. So, there is no reason for any team to now say they are surprised.

"The bottom line is any team who has overspent has gained an unfair advantage both in the current and following year's car development.

"We don't feel a financial penalty alone would be a suitable penalty for an overspend breach or a serious procedural breach.

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"There clearly needs to be a sporting penalty in these instances, as determined by the FIA."

"We suggest that the overspend should be penalised by way of a reduction to the team's cost cap in the year following the ruling, and the penalty should be equal to the overspend plus a further fine.

"I.e. an overspend of $2m (£1.76m) in 2021, which is identified in 2022, would result in a $4m (£3.53m) deduction in 2023 ($2m to offset the overspend plus $2m fine)."

"In addition, we believe there should be minor overspend sporting penalties of a 20% reduction in CFD and wind tunnel time.

"These should be enforced in the following year, to mitigate against the unfair advantage the team has and will continue to benefit from."

Brown also explained that extra spending of just £1.76m can have as much as a 50 per cent upgrade to a car's performance over the season.

Prior to the ruling's announcement, Lewis Hamilton had also revealed the huge difference even one upgrade can make on the car – putting Verstappen's first championship victory under even more scrutiny.

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Meanwhile, fans crowned Hamilton as an eight-time world champion after the revelations were made public.

Since then, Verstappen has now claimed a second title in far less dramatic fashion with a championship reminiscent of some of Hamilton's most dominant years in the sport.

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