Lewis Hamilton suggests Mercedes will break budget cap

The FIA have stated that rumours regarding potential 2022 cost cap breaches are "unfounded".

Ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton has questioned the FIA’s harshness in regard to the budget cap, with the Mercedes driver believing that Red Bull’s punishment last season wasn’t “big”.

The budget cap was a hot topic on Thursday during media day at the Hungaroring, following rumours that three teams have breached the 2022 cap.

Whilst the FIA have stated that these rumours are “unfounded”, it was reported by multiple media outlets.

Red Bull, of course, breached the 2021 budget cap by around £1.8 million, with the Austrians having been fined $7 million and slapped with a 10% reduction of their allotted wind tunnel time for 12 months.

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Given how dominant the Milton Keynes-based team have been in 2023, the general consensus is that the Austrians penalty wasn’t harsh enough.

Red Bull have actually been more superior since their punishment came into effect, leaving Hamilton convinced that the governing body were too lenient.

As a result, the 38-year-old isn’t surprised by the rumours that three teams have potentially breached last season’s cap, given that they’ll only receive a “slap on the wrist”.

“I mean, there wasn’t really a big punishment last time, so there’ll be people that’ll probably go for it again and know they’re just going to get slap on the wrist,” Hamilton told Sky Sports.

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Little is known about who the guilty teams may be; however, Mercedes and Ferrari have both distanced themselves from the rumours.

F1 CEO and president Stefano Domenicali has called for guilty parties to receive a sporting punishment rather than a financial one; however, it’s ultimately down to the FIA to determine the penalties.

It’s set to be announced much sooner than last season whose actually breached the cap, with the FIA having more than doubled their permanent staff to speed up the lengthy process.

“It’s clear that there is an interest from the stakeholders to have a quick outcome,” said Federico Lodi, the FIA’s financial regulations director for F1 and Formula E, as reported by RaceFans.net.

“We, as the FIA, understand these requirements, so we have strengthened the department, and now we have 10 full-time employees working on Formula 1 financial regulation. This is a significant increase over last year, when it was just four.

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“However, it is still clear that it’s difficult to commit to a rigid timeline, as there are many variables that need to be taken into account.

“First, there are the findings themselves – what we identify and what we need to dig into further. On top of that, we also have to take into account the fact that we do the review with the support of the team, and obviously, the finance department of the team is also busy with running its business; they may also have a reporting commitment to their shareholders for example.

“So, while we need to work as quickly as possible, for us the most important thing is not to undermine the robustness of the process.”