Despite 2022 edging ever closer to an end, 2021 continues to be the biggest topic of the Formula 1 season, with Red Bull’s budget cap breach having resulted in some unwanted emotions returning.
It was announced the day after Max Verstappen claimed his second title in Japan that the Austrians had exceeded the 2021 budget cap, following a ‘minor’ breach according to the FIA.
Reports suggest that Red Bull breached the 2021 cap of $145 million by around $1.8 million, a sum that former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas believes could’ve made a “big difference”.
The majority of the paddock have demanded that the governing body award a heavy penalty; however, this is starting to look increasingly unlikely.
Supposedly, the FIA has offered Red Bull an “accepted breach agreement”, which effectively gives the energy drink-owned team a chance to accept that they breached the cap.
If this does happen, then it’s likely the Austrians will simply get a slap on the wrist, rather than a penalty that “really hurts”.
Bottas, of course, saw the emotions first-hand of what losing the 2021 season finale did to Mercedes and the Silver Arrows, emotions which have resurfaced as a result of it coming to light that Red Bull cheated last season.
The Finnish driver wants a big penalty to be awarded by the FIA, to prove that no team can consider purposefully breaching the budget cap to gain an advantage.
“I feel like the rules are the rules and if you don’t follow them there should be a penalty that really hurts,” said Bottas.
“You don’t want anyone to have the appetite to maximise something for one year and risking with the budget cap. I personally hope that it is going to be a strict and harsh penalty because that shouldn’t happen.”
Due to the FIA keeping the majority of the information confidential, it’s unknown what exactly Red Bull spent too much money on to go beyond the limit.
Reportedly, it’s due to overspending on catering and potentially due to chief technology officer Adrian Newey’s wage; however, Red Bull deny the latter.
It, therefore, can’t be ruled out that Verstappen gained an advantage last season from the budget cap breach, with Bottas predicting that even a tiny overspend would “make a big, big difference”.
“The rules are the rules,” added Bottas.
“There are many rules in F1 and this should be no different in terms of the penalty.
“Let’s hope that it is a penalty that really hurts them because I was in the fight last year for the constructors’. Yes, we got that but we missed the drivers’ title by a few points and a few million, it can make a big, big difference.”