Lewis Hamilton calls for harsh penalty, admits Red Bull might have followed the rules

Red Bull have reportedly been found guilty of having exceeded the 2021 budget cap.

Sir Lewis Hamilton has highlighted the significance of the FIA being “transparent” for the fans and the “integrity of the sport”, following reports that Red Bull are set to be found guilty of having exceeded the 2021 budget cap.

To reduce costs and bring the field closer together, a budget of $145 million was introduced last season for the teams to spend on anything to do with the car, except the engine.

It means that any upgrades to the car would’ve come out of this budget, which Red Bull and Aston Martin are believed to have exceeded.

The FIA were set to award certificates of compliance to all the teams who kept below the limit, with the two mentioned teams set to not receive one.

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The certificates were supposed to be awarded on Wednesday ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix; however, the FIA have announced that they’ll now be given out on Monday after the race.

Should Red Bull be found guilty, the range of penalties they could be awarded is extremely extensive.

The penalty could range from a fine to a reduction in resources or a reduction in wind tunnel time; however, it could also see the team be deducted points from the 2021 Constructors’ and or Drivers’ Championship.

Should points be taken from Max Verstappen’s 2021 total, then this could see the Dutchman stripped of his first World Championship, which would, of course, see Hamilton crowned as an unprecedented eight-time World Champion.

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It’s believed to be unlikely that the FIA will deduct points from Red Bull’s 2021 total; however, the legitimacy of Verstappen’s 2021 crown will be questioned if Red Bull had in fact fitted last season’s car with illegal upgrades.

Hamilton has spoken about the matter and has faith that FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem will do “what is right for the sport”.

“I think it’s imperative,” he said on Thursday in Suzuka.

“We need to continue to have transparency for the fans, for the integrity of the sport.

“I don’t know enough about it, there are a lot of conversations in the background but no-one truly knows. There’s different numbers and different things being said.

“I was expecting the results to come out already and I like to think if it’s been delayed it’s because it’s being taken very seriously and I trust that Mohammed [Ben Sulayem, FIA president] is taking it seriously and will do what is right for the sport.”

If Red Bull are guilty, then it will quickly become the biggest scandal in the history of Formula 1, given the advantage overspending in 2021 would’ve given.

The seven-time World Champion wants any team who are deemed to have breached the budget cap to be punished accordingly, whilst also praising his own side for doing an “amazing job” of sticking to the cap.

“I think it would be bad for the sport if action wasn’t taken if there was a breach. But I don’t know if there is, so I’ll wait just as you will,” he continued.

“For sure, it would put in question our values, the integrity of the sport.

“I remember last year, as a driver, you are always asking for updates. I remember at Silverstone we got our last update, and it was worth almost three-tenths.

“I’m pretty certain it cost less than a million… but maybe over time, it would cost more in terms of being built.

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“I remember after that needing more updates, but then seeing trucks from those guys [Red Bull], updates continuing to arrive on the other car. I was thinking, ‘jeez, it’s gonna be hard to beat them in the championship if they keep bringing updates’.

“It’s so integral to the development race. If we had another half a million to spend, we would have been in a different position at some of the following races if we had brought another floor, which we could have easily done,” he added.

“But that’s not the name of the game and I’m grateful our team is very strict and abides [by the rules]. The way we work, they did an amazing job. It needs to be taken seriously.”