FIA respond to Red Bull Cashgate leak

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has addressed rumours that a former Mercedes advisor leaked Red Bull’s 2021 cost cap breach.

Red Bull were accused of breaching the 2021 cost cap of $145m as early as the Singapore Grand Prix, despite there being no official statement from the FIA.

The rumours ran rife for weeks before the FIA released their verdict, eventually finding the energy drink giants guilty of a minor breach of the budget cap, and punishing them with a $7m fine and a ten per cent reduction in wind tunnel testing time for 2023.

With the rumours beginning so long before any official statement was made, Christian Horner has criticised the other teams for their actions which were based on no real evidence.

It also presents the question as to where the initial leak came from, with the teams who took to the media to express their outrage at Red Bull seemingly getting their information from somewhere.

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Fingers have been pointed at Shaila-Ann Rao, who was made the FIA’s interim secretary of sport earlier this year, because of her ties to Mercedes.

Rao previously served as a lawyer for the Silver Arrows, which has led to her being accused of being the source of the leak.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has now squashed these rumours, suggesting that the idea of Rao having a Mercedes bias is absolute nonsense.

“Shaila-Ann has supported me a lot. You can see her intelligence when it comes to making big decisions for me,” he stated.

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“Actually, once the penalties were in place for the teams, she said that was a bit harsh of me,” he then claimed.

“I looked at her and said ‘My God, there’s someone accusing her of being on Mercedes’ side and she’s telling me I’m too tough on Red Bull.”

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When asked who he believes was the true source of the leak, he suggested that his suspicions lie with the F1 teams themselves.

“We had a meeting in Austria and while we were still talking about something, it was already in the news.”

Christian Horner has told reporters that he believes that the other teams in the paddock should face punishment for their actions, as the breach that Red Bull were being accused of ended up being far off the figure that was eventually confirmed.