Guenther Steiner breaks silence on Red Bull ‘cheating’

Red Bull were found guilty by the FIA of exceeding the 2021 budget cap, but their punishment is yet to be announced.

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has become the latest senior Formula 1 paddock member to speak out against Red Bull following their breach of the 2021 budget cap, with the Italian insisting that “there must be consequences”.

It was announced by the FIA the day after Max Verstappen claimed his second title at the Japanese Grand Prix that following much speculation, the Austrians had exceeded the 2021 cap.

Red Bull were found guilty of having completed a ‘minor’ break of the £114 million budget, which was available in 2021 to be spent on the car (excluding the power unit), areas such as catering, and employee wages (excluding the three highest earners).

The budget cap was introduced by the governing body in 2021 to make for a more financially fair playing field, in a bid to make the racing closer.

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By exceeding the cap by a rumoured £1.8 million, Red Bull have effectively cheated.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown accused the Austrians of that, in a written letter to the FIA demanding a heavy penalty.

The general consensus throughout the paddock is that a hefty penalty must be awarded; however, a concern is that the FIA has an extensive list of punishments to choose from.

Red Bull could be punished with a fine, a resource reduction, a session ban, and even possibly a points deduction from either 2021 championship.

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A fine is the most likely penalty; however, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff wants the FIA to award something that’ll affect the Austrians future development, rather than change the past.

Steiner has since added his thoughts, with the Italian wanting to see the FIA “take action”.

“There must be consequences,” Steiner insisted.

“I think the FIA must take action.

“It doesn’t have to be tomorrow but it does need to be worked through so we set a sign for the future that no one else can do it or you don’t just get an advantage by breaking the rules and paying a fine. But I think it has to be very carefully thought about how it is approached.”

Whilst the FIA have labelled Red Bull’s breach as ‘minor’, Wolff has dismissed such a thing as a ‘minor’ breach, with any form of breach giving the guilty party a definite advantage.

The Mercedes boss revealed that the Silver Arrows spent $3.5 million on the car last season, where Lewis Hamilton lost out to Verstappen on the final lap of the season finale.

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With the Germans budget in mind, the Austrian demonstrated that an extra $500,000 makes more than a ‘minor’ “difference”.

“We can see that there are two top teams that are just about the same and there is another team that spends more,” he said.

“We know exactly what we’re spending – three and a half million a year in parts that we bring to the car. So then you can see what difference it makes to spend another $500,000. It would be a difference.”