‘At least it’s not cheating’: Ex-F1 champion defends Red Bull and Max Verstaappen

Red Bull have now been punished by the FIA for breaching the 2021 cost cap.

Red Bull have been the subject of a lot of scrutiny over the past couple of months, with their breach of the 2021 cost cap being hotly debated prior to their punishment last week.

The FIA have confirmed that Red Bull will have to pay $7m by the end of November, while seeing a 10% reduction of their CFD and wind tunnel testing time for 2023.

The team were found to be guilty of a minor breach of 1.4 million pounds, much less than had been rumoured prior to the announcement, with the FIA refusing to suggest that the team had deliberately tried to deceive or gain an advantage.

Christian Horner had to publicly defend his team when the energy drink giants began being called cheaters by others in the paddock, more specifically McLaren CEO Zak Brown.

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F1 legend Jacques Villeneuve does not agree with Brown that Red Bull are cheats, and has questioned the effect that the fine could have on the team.

“At least it’s not cheating,” he said.

“Lying about traction control, that’s cheating.

“Whether it would have made any difference in the outcome this year, I doubt. Red Bull is so strong that they would have won anyway.

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“What bothers me is that the FIA is now collecting seven million dollars. So it has hardly any effect for Red Bull and the other teams don’t get a penny.

“The ten per cent less time in the wind tunnel does hurt, that will slow them down. But it doesn’t gain the others lap time, some of the penalty money would help. Just divide that among the teams.”

The main thing that the other teams on the grid have been calling for is for a precedent to be set, that the punishment that Red Bull receives should deter any other teams from breaching the cap in the future, but Villeneuve does not see this being the case.

“When McLaren got that mega fine of 100 million, that didn’t happen either. 

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“The ruling and the penalty for Red Bull have not yet made it clear to me what is and is not allowed and what penalty you get for that.

“And then there was that tax setback, otherwise the excess would have been less than a million. So I find it hard to say whether the penalty is severe enough.”

Horner is convinced that the cut in testing time will cost the team a significant amount of lap time next year compared to their rivals, potentially opening the door for Mercedes or Ferrari to mount a title challenge in 2023.