Toto Wolff makes surprising comment about FIA stripping Max Verstappen of title

Red Bull were found guilty of having exceeded the 2021 budget cap last week, leading to outrage and calls for a harsh penalty.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has revealed that he doesn’t “want to be in the shoes” of those that are set to determine what penalty Red Bull will face, after the FIA confirmed that the Austrians had exceeded the 2021 budget cap.

The budget cap was actually only introduced last season, with all the sides having a £114 million budget to spend on car development (excluding the power unit), areas such as catering, and employee wages (excluding the three highest earners).

The FIA deemed the Constructors’ leaders guilty of a ‘minor’ breach, with the side rumoured to have overspent by up to £1.8 million.

It’s unknown exactly what the side have overspent on, with there being rumours that it could be due to a catering issue or an employee wages issue.

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Nevertheless, Red Bull exceeded the limit.

The cap was introduced to make for a more financially fair playing field, giving the lower teams a chance to compete with the frontrunners.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has sensationally written to the FIA insisting that Red Bull have cheated, something they arguably have.

The biggest issue, though, is that there are a number of potential punishments that could be awarded.

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A fine is the expected penalty; however, the FIA could also reduce Red Bull’s resources, and even deduct points from their 2021 total.

Whilst the latter is unlikely, it does mean Max Verstappen’s maiden title is in question, given that any points deduction would see him stripped of the title, making Lewis Hamilton an eight-time World Champion.

Wolff certainly feels sympathy for those making the penalty decision; however, he knows the importance that the upcoming decision will have on the sport’s future.

“I tell you, I don’t want to be in the shoes of the judges to judge on that,” Wolff admitted.

“Drivers are driving their guts out in order to be on top. There are decisions that the team takes that they are not involved in.

“But still, in the end, you sit in a car that is made on steroids. It’s such a tough call and I wouldn’t want to make a judgement call.

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“To be honest, my thinking isn’t so far, it’s more about the principle of how this is going to pan out in the future. How robust are these regulations? How are they being enforced and policed? How is the governance process going to run?

“Because we don’t know, when it goes to the adjudication panel, how the judges will decide and then it is a learning by doing for all of us.”

Should the penalty be insufficient, then Wolff has already revealed that Mercedes will overspend purposefully in 2023, in order to regain their spot as the team to beat.