Christian Horner accuses Mercedes of Max Verstappen distraction

Max Verstappen is on the verge of his second world title.

Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, has reiterated that the timing of the cost cap debate, just as Max Verstappen is about to wrap up his second title, is no coincidence.

The teams were given a spending limit last season, and they were required to adhere to a $145 million cost cap to be spread between development of last year’s car and that of this year.

They recorded their outgoings, and submitted their paperwork for the FIA to review, which the governing body initially promised to have done by Wednesday.

That deadline passed, but they had still not finished their calculations, so they have now slated Monday as the expected date for their list of compliant teams.

READ: Mercedes engineer accuses Red Bull of ‘mechanical’ trickery amid Cashgate

We will then find out if any teams have not stayed within the budget cap, and a report last week accused Red Bull and Aston Martin of overspending.

It suggested that the Austrian team had gone over by $10 million, which is a material overspend, and could be punishable by exclusion from the championship standings.

It is now understood that, if Horner’s team have gone over, it is not by more than five percent, which is the threshold for a material breach of the financial regulations.

If it turns out that any team did exceed the limit in 2021, then the FIA will need to go through the process of considering mitigating factors, before deciding on a suitable punishment.

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Horner is thought to be considering legal action against those who have accused his team of breaking the rules, and he was amazed that they had come up with any figures given that the FIA had not completed their review yet.

Either way, the 48-year-old is certain that Red Bull are not in contravention of any laws.

“We were expecting certificates as well on Wednesday, hoping for them on Wednesday. That’s obviously been delayed for all of the teams, the FIA has obviously taken that choice,” Horner told Sky Sports.

“We wait with interest to see what happens on Monday, but again, we feel we’ve absolutely complied with the cost cap, with the regulations and are happy with our submission. 

“We are waiting to hear what the feedback is.”

Verstappen will win his second consecutive title this weekend in Suzuka if he wins with the fastest lap, and the budget saga started just before the Singapore Grand Prix, when the Dutchman was presented with his first mathematical possibility of sealing the deal.

READ: 2022 Japanese GP: Jos Verstappen makes surprise decision as Max likely to seal title

“The amount of noise that’s been on other topics, one can only think it’s designed to be a bit of a distraction,” suggested Horner.

“We are very happy with where we are, where our submission for the cap is and all focus on this weekend.”

Verstappen went sixth fastest in a soaking first practice in Japan on Friday, before setting a lap good enough for third in the second session.