Sir Lewis Hamilton has claimed that an extra £300,000 in Mercedes’ 2021 budget would have allowed him to win the 2021 championship.
He also revealed that he does “believe” that FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem will “do what is right” for the “integrity” of Formula 1, should Red Bull and Aston Martin be found guilty of having exceeded the 2021 budget cap.
In 2021, a budget cap of $145 million was introduced to make the grid not only closer, but make for a more financially fair playing field; however, reports have led to suggestions that Red Bull and Aston Martin have exceeded this amount.
The budget cap is the money teams use towards performance-based components and upgrades, excluding anything to do with the engine.
Whilst the 2021 season finale is already considered controversial enough, if Red Bull are deemed guilty by the FIA for having exceeded the budget cap last season, then the legitimacy of Max Verstappen’s championship will be forever questioned.
Essentially, if deemed guilty, then Red Bull and Aston Martin benefitted last season from ‘illegal’ upgrades, which would’ve been developed using money which exceeded the limit.
Hamilton believes that exceeding the cap by £300,000 would be enough for a side to gain an advantage, with the seven-time World Champion aware that for him a new “floor or an adapted wing” would’ve tipped the 2021 title in his favour.
“I remember last year in Silverstone we had our last upgrade and fortunately it was great and we could fight with it,” he told Sky Sports ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.
“But then we would see Red Bull every weekend or every other weekend bring in upgrades. They had, I think, at least four more upgrades from that point.
“If we had spent 300,000 on a new floor or an adapted wing it would have changed the outcome of the championship, naturally, because we would have been in better competition in the next race you had it on.
“So I hope that that’s not the case, for the sport.”
Should the two teams be found guilty of having exceeded the cap last season, then the 37-year-old has “faith” that the correct punishment will be awarded.
The potential penalties that any team who has exceeded the cap could face ranges from a fine, to a reduction in resources; however, points could also be deducted from the 2021 championship.
A points deduction in the Drivers’ Championship would most likely see Verstappen stripped of his 2021 crown, with it instead being awarded to Hamilton.
The Silver Arrows driver recognises that there are “good people” working for the FIA, giving him hope that the 2021 financial reports will be dealt with correctly.
“I do believe that Mohammed and the FIA will do what is right with whatever they find out,” he said.
“That’s what we have to have faith in.
“It’s important for all of us, all the people that are working, the thousands of people that are working, I think it’s important to have transparency throughout the organisation and accountability is something that we always have to hold true to.
“We’ve seen in previous years of the sport where things have been dealt with in the background. I don’t think that’s the new way forward with the new way of working with Mohammed.
“I think integrity is very important to him as it is for F1 nowadays with the new management. So I think we have good people in place. I hope that we get the right governance.”