‘They’re going to find out’: Toto Wolff’s cheating warning

Red Bull were found to have breached the 2021 budget cap, leading to a financial and sporting penalty.

In an effort to ensure fairness and maintain the integrity of Formula 1, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) is stepping up its efforts to catch teams breaching the cost cap. 

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has expressed his desire for transparency and accountability, while McLaren team principal Andrea Stella emphasises the importance of strong policing.

During the 2021 season, both Red Bull and Aston Martin were found guilty of exceeding the cost cap, but the specific findings of last year’s investigations are still undisclosed. 

To address this issue, the FIA has taken a proactive approach by requesting regular updates on the cost cap, instead of waiting until the end of the year. 

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By doing so, the FIA aims to keep teams in line and prevent any repeat of the cost cap violations witnessed in 2021.

To ensure a comprehensive assessment, some teams have been presented with extensive questionnaires, consisting of over 100 questions. 

This meticulous approach seeks to identify any potential exploitation or rule-breaking and reinforces the FIA’s commitment to fair competition.

When questioned about teams exploiting the current system, Toto Wolff responded, “I think so. Yes.” 

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However, he commended the FIA’s rigorous auditing efforts, acknowledging the significant work and effort invested in preventing any breaches. 

“But the work that the FIA has put into auditing us was big work and big effort, and I have no doubt that they are going to do the same with the other teams,” he added

“If someone has been cavalier or has cheated, then they’re going to find out.”

He expressed confidence that the FIA would apply the same level of scrutiny to other teams, emphasising their commitment to unearthing any cavalier behavior or cheating.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella echoed Wolff’s sentiments, expressing the team’s appreciation for the FIA’s approach. 

Stella emphasised the necessity of strong policing and acknowledged the inherent complexity in team structures that could potentially create opportunities for exploitation or ambiguity. 

To proactively address these concerns, McLaren has recently established McLaren Advanced Projects, an independent engineering unit that operates separately from the F1 team. 

This new initiative was developed in anticipation of regulatory changes and aims to collaborate closely with the FIA to further enhance regulations and enforcement. 

Stella emphasised that a level playing field, facilitated by a robust cost cap, is vital for an exciting and competitive motorsport.

“We welcome very much this approach by the FIA, and we think that a strong policing is absolutely necessary,” Stella said.

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“There’s quite a lot of complexity in how teams are structured, which can create opportunities or sometimes lack of clarity, and there could be some exploitation, let’s say.

“What we have created very recently is McLaren Advanced Projects, which is an engineering unit that is completely separate to the activity of the F1 team.

“It’s been created in light of what we knew was coming from a regulatory point of view, and we are working together with the FIA to, if anything, make the policing and the regulations even stricter here, because the cost gap is the fundamental element of creating a level playing field, which would make this sport and racing much more exciting.”