Toto Wolff gives verdict on Red Bull penalty

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff previously threatened to deliberately exceed the 2023 budget cap.

Chatter has run rife in the paddock in recent weeks surrounding Red Bull’s ‘cashgate’ scandal, with the team having been rumoured to have breached last year’s budget cap since before the Singapore Grand Prix.

The team have now been fined $7m and given a 10% reduction in wind tunnel time for next year and while some debate is still to be had around the severity of the punishment, Toto Wolff has given credit to the FIA for their approach to the breach.

“I think what is the most important for me is that there is a robust governance,” he said.

“They didn’t budge an eyelid, they just followed the process how it went.

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“They were absolutely good in assessing. I know how rigorous they were with us all throughout the year. That was a difficult process.

“Overall, it’s good to see that there is a penalty, whether we deem it too low or too high.”

Christian Horner has accepted the punishment but still refuses to accept any wrongdoing from his team, claiming that they simply interpreted the rules differently to anyone else, with other team principals in the previous weeks agreeing that some of the rules and regulations surrounding the budget cap were confusing at times.

Aston Martin fell foul of his, being found guilty of a procedural breach rather than an overspend and being fined $450k for their mistake in the budget cap abiding process.

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The FIA had found 13 cases in Red Bull’s reports of costs being incorrectly excluded or edited although they have refused to accuse the team of any dishonestly or intentional efforts to deceive the governing body, potentially justifying Horner’s claims of misinterpretation.

It was originally rumoured that chief technical officer Adrian Newey was one of the reasons that the team ended up going over the cap, with the team reportedly unsure if his costs are exempt from the cost cap, being in a grey area between a team employee and an outsourced company.

With the overspend being only £1.86m it is likely that Horner is telling the truth about the team not being ‘cheats’ as they were labelled by McLaren CEO Zak Brown, and did not use the extra money for an upgrade, thus defending the legitimacy of Max Verstappen’s maiden title.