‘Hugely worrying’: Christian Horner demands immediate FIA investigation

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown wrote a letter to the FIA, effectively labelling Red Bull as 'constitutional cheaters'.

With the dust having finally settled on the ‘Cashgate’ saga, Red Bull boss Christian Horner has reflected on the challenging few weeks his team has faced, after accusations against the side came to life at the Singapore Grand Prix.

It was reported in Singapore that Red Bull had exceeded the 2021 budget cap of $145 million, something the side completely disagreed with, and became angry over, with the accusations ‘damaging’ the Austrians reputation.

These ‘accusations’, were turned into facts following the Japanese Grand Prix, where the FIA announced that the 2022 Constructors’ Champions had been found guilty of a ‘minor’ breach of the 2021 cap.

The word ‘cheaters’ was dangerously thrown around, with McLaren CEO Zak Brown having suggested that Red Bull were such a thing in a letter sent directly to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

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Red Bull insisted that the breach was due to overspending on catering and employee areas, such a sick pay, not due to spending more on Max Verstappen’s 2021 title-winning car.

Prior to the Mexican Grand Prix, Red Bull’s punishment was announced by the governing body, with the side having been fined $7 million and slapped with a 10-percent reduction in permitted aerodynamic research for breaching the cap by $2.2 million.

Horner labelled the penalty as ‘draconian’, with the team principal expecting his side to lose up to half a second per lap in 2023.

Nevertheless, after a month of speculation, accusations, and damaging comments, Horner has spoken out on the entire saga.

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Horner explained how “extremely upsetting” the comments made by the other teams were for his employees, with the Brit wanting a thorough investigation into “any form of leakage” with it being unknown how the media knew about the ‘minor’ breach before it was officially announced.

“The accusations made in Singapore were extremely upsetting for every single member of staff, all our partners, everyone involved within Red Bull,” said Horner.

“Obviously, any form of leakage is hugely worrying. It’s something that we expect to be followed up.”

Horner believes that his side are “probably due an apology from some of our rivals for some of the claims that they’ve made,” and that Red Bull will “make no apology for the way that we’ve performed, the way that we’ve acted.”

Whether the likes of Brown will apologise to the Austrians remains to be seen, with his comments to the FIA having likely been incredibly damaging to the team’s brand.

Horner admits that there are “lessons” to be learnt by the side, but that the accusations and disgraceful behaviour by the other teams and fans must “stop”.

“We do take on the chin that there are lessons to be made,” admitted the Brit.

“Potentially mistakes have been made in our submission, which with the benefit of hindsight and 20/20 vision, everybody can be a specialist.

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“But there was no intent, there was nothing dishonest, and there was certainly no cheating involved which has been alleged in certain quarters. So I don’t feel that we need to apologise.

“I think there are lessons that have been learned. Everybody can learn from this. We’ve taken our pounding in public, we’ve taken a very public pounding, through the accusations that have been made by other teams.

“Our drivers have been booed at circuits. And the reputational damage that has been made by allegations has been significant. The time has come for that to stop.”