Max Verstappen’s fellow double World Champion Fernando Alonso has seemingly jumped to somewhat of a defence for Red Bull, following the announcement that the Austrians exceeded the 2021 budget cap.
The day after Verstappen sealed his second consecutive Drivers’ Championship at the Japanese Grand Prix, it was announced by the FIA that following much speculation, Red Bull had exceeded the £114 million 2021 budget cap.
The championship leaders were found guilty of a ‘minor’ 2021 breach, with the side rumoured to have exceeded the cap by $1.8 million.
As it stands, the FIA are mulling over what punishment to award the energy drink-owned team; however, they have offered the Austrians an “accepted breach agreement” ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, which could see the punishment become simply a slap on the wrist.
Should Red Bull agree to the FIA’s offer, then it will cause complete outrage in the paddock, with teams and drivers rallying together to ensure that the governing body awards a heavy penalty.
One of those demanding a “harsh penalty” is Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, who was, of course, Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate in 2021.
Bottas highlighted that overspending by a “few millions” can be the difference in winning the title or not, with Hamilton having lost out following Verstappen’s last lap overtake on the Brit at the season finale.
“I personally hope that it’s going to be a strict and harsh penalty because rules are rules,” said Bottas.
“I was in the fight last year and we missed the drivers’ title by a few points – and a few million can make a big, big difference.”
Understandably, Verstappen has been questioned about the current scandal surrounding the team, which has thrown his 2021 Drivers’ Championship into further disapproval.
The Dutchman isn’t listening to any of what the paddock have been saying about him or Red Bull, though, after admitting that he thinks they’re simply being hypocrites.
“This is how Formula 1 works,” said the Dutchman.
“Everyone criticises their rivals as much as possible, but I don’t see this as a problem.”
Sergio Pérez essentially said the same as his double World Champion team-mate, with the Mexican wanting to wait until the “facts come out” to properly comment.
“At the end of the day facts will come out and people will see and understand the situation,” Pérez said, speaking in a similar tone to his team-mate.
Alonso has supported Verstappen’s ‘hypocrite’ claim and went even further by giving his opinion that winners “exploiting a grey area” isn’t new.
The Spaniard has been involved in scandals himself previously, most notably Crashgate, where his 2008 team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr. crashed on purpose to ensure that Alonso won the Singapore Grand Prix.
“The cost ceiling is new, but there have always been things you could explore – grey areas,” said Alonso.
“People who have won championships have always done so by exploiting a grey area. Then other teams copy it and get to that level, or that thing that was allowed for a couple of races gets banned.
“It is the nature of F1.
“I can’t remember a champion team that hasn’t exploited some element that has surprised the other teams.
“Brawn, Red Bull in 2012, the dominance of Mercedes,” Alonso explained.
“Ferrari won two races in 2019 with something that everyone knew was not legal, and nothing happened. Those two victories stayed.
“Imagine if they had won the world championship with that engine,” he added.
“In the end I trust in the people who have power. I’m just a driver.”