‘They won’t’: David Coulthard makes 2023 prediction after Red Bull’s penalty

Ex-F1 drivers David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen both believe Red Bull's 'Cashgate' penalty is enough to stop future breaches.

Red Bull’s ‘Cashgate’ penalty has certainly divided opinion amongst the paddock, with some believing it’s harsh and others thinking it’s not strong enough.

One of those thinking the latter is Haas team principal Guenther Steiner, who is expecting the $7 million fine and 10-percent reduction in permitted aerodynamic research to have little effect on the Austrians.

The new Constructors’ Champions were, of course, awarded the penalty for making a ‘minor’ $2.2 million breach of the $145 million 2021 budget cap, as a result of spending too much on catering and their employees, reportedly.

Two high-key ex-F1 drivers, though, believe the punishment the FIA awarded is enough given the breach, with ex-Red Bull driver David Coulthard certain that the penalty awarded will stop other teams breaching the cap in the future.

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Prior to the punishment being announced, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted that the Germans would breach the cap on purpose in 2023 if the penalty wasn’t harsh enough.

Coulthard can’t see this happening following the penalty announcement, with the Scot believing that “nobody wants a 10-percent reduction”.

“Let’s say McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes all go over the cost cap next year because they’re willing to take a 10 per cent reduction,” said the Scot.

“They won’t do it because 10% is 10% – nobody wants a 10% reduction. So of course they’re going to say that, because the shoe is not on their foot. But as sure as they are in Formula 1, there’ll be something that’s controversial about their team in the future.”

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Coulthard’s opinion backs double World Champion Mika Hakkinen, who actually hailed the penalty as “significant”.

The 1998 and 1999 World Champion expects teams to not even consider breaching the cap on purpose in the future, given the “negative publicity” Red Bull has received as a result.

“The FIA recognised that there could be various levels of overspend and reasons for doing so,” wrote the Finn.

“Red Bull’s penalty for the minor overspend is still significant. Far more than the financial or aerodynamic penalty, it has been an uncomfortable experience for the team.

“The good thing is that no team will want to risk repeating this next year, so although it has been a very difficult and controversial moment for Red Bull, I believe it will benefit F1 in the long term because every team boss will be determined not to have this kind of negative publicity in future.”

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Hakkinen’s point of harm to the side’s reputation was echoed in Mexico by Wolff himself, who explained that aside from the penalty awarded by the FIA, there is also “reputational damage” that the guilty party has to deal with.

“Beyond the sporting penalty and fine, there is also reputational damage,” Wolff told Sky Sports.

“In a world of transparency and good governance, it’s just not on any more. Whatever team you are, you’re responsible for representing a brand, your employees and your partners, and that’s why for us it wouldn’t be [something they would do].”