Toto Wolff makes surprising ‘unfair’ punishment claim about Red Bull

Red Bull were found guilty of breaching the 2021 cost cap earlier this year, with the ‘cashgate’ saga dominating the paddock for the latter stages of the season.

The FIA were forced to set a precedent earlier this year, as it was revealed that Red Bull had breached their new cost cap in the first year of its introduction to the sport.

Teams had been limited to spending $145m over the course of the 2021 season and after investigation it was confirmed that Red Bull were guilty of a ‘minor’ breach of this new cap.

The FIA needed to punish the energy drink giants accordingly to deter other teams from breaching the cap in the future, with multiple team principals calling for a severe penalty for the team.

Despite rumours of a points deduction for 2021 champion Max Verstappen, which would have seen Lewis Hamilton awarded a record breaking eighth world title, Red Bull were fined $7m and had ten percent of their wind tunnel testing time for 2023 taken away.

READ: Adrian Newey makes ‘naughty and silly’ admission about Max Verstappen

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown was outraged with this punishment, penning a letter to the FIA demanding Red Bull were punished in a harsher manor, a request which fell of deaf ears.

With the dust now having settled on the ‘cashgate’ sage, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has sympathised with his rivals, claiming that the damage done to Red Bull’s reputation as a company is unfair.

“Yes, I think it’s okay,” said the Austrian when quizzed about the FIA’s penalty for Red Bull.

“I think the biggest penalty was not the ten percent wind tunnel time [reduction] or the seven million dollars but the reputational hit that the team got. In a way it’s unfair for the Red Bull mother brand which is fantastic in their field.

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“But the racing team has just been having such a reputational hit and also the people. So I think nobody is kind of dare bringing it close to that anymore.”

Red Bull will be fighting with one hand tied behind their back in 2023, as team principal Christian Horner has claimed that the ‘draconian’ penalty could cost his team half a second in lap time next season.

Chief technical director Adrian Newey has suggested the opposite, claiming that he does not expect the team to be affected too much by the penalty, but no one will truly know how hindered Red Bull will be in 2023 until the season opener in Bahrain.