Toto Wolff puts Christian Horner on blast over financial breach

Red Bull and Aston Martin are accused of overspending last season.

Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, has suggested that Red Bull have been under investigation for a substantial amount of time over possible breaches of the budget cap regulations next season.

The teams were given a limit of $145 million that they could spend on development of the cars, damage repairs, freight and energy bills in the wind tunnel in 2021.

That was reduced to $140 million at the start pf 2022, but that was put back to last year’s figure after concerns were raised about inflation.

In a report by Auto Motor und Sport this week, Red Bull and Aton Martin are both indicated as teams that may have overspent last year.

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Some reports are even saying that the Austrian side may have spent as much as $155 million last year, and this falls under the material overspend category.

This puts them at risk of some of the harshest punishments in the range, which include fines, a reduction of testing time, and even exclusion from the 2021 championship.

The financial regulations do not specify whether exclusion applies to both championships, so this would likely be down to the FIA’s discretion.

Red Bull boss, Christian Horner, insisted that he is “not aware” of any breaches of the rules, and he is “confident” that the FIA will find that they did not spend more than the allocated amount.

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Exclusion from the championship could potentially mean that Sir Lewis Hamilton is crowned champion for the 2021 season, so Mercedes will be interested to see how everything turns out.

Wolff indicated that one of the two teams under investigation has spent less than five percent more than the regulation amount.

“It’s funny that Christian says that [Red Bull are innocent], because it’s been weeks and months that they are being investigated, maybe he doesn’t speak to his CFO,” he told Sky Sports.

“As a matter of fact, all of us have been investigated diligently and as far as we understand there is a team in minor breach, which is more procedural, and another team that is fundamental and massively over.

“The rumour mill [has been] going since a while that they are over and they are quite a lot over. That’s not from some employees, but they’ve been investigated now for months.

“That is being still looked after, so that’s an open secret in the paddock.”

The Austrian conceded that a reversal of the 2021 Drivers’ Standings is a bit of a stretch.

“I think it’s not up to me to judge and that’s not realistic, but I wouldn’t want to be in their position because of the impact it had over three years,” added Wolff.

“Even if it’s a so-called minor breach that can be below 5 per cent, you can spend $7 million more than everybody else, and that means is if this is a light penalty, we will all be pushing those 5 per cent more going forward.

“The crucial part is that if you have been over in 2021, then you have been over in 2022. That means you have an advantage into 2023.

“If it’s true they have homologated a lightweight chassis this year, they may use it next year.

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“It’s really a cascade of events and that can be influential in all of the three championships. 

“That’s heavyweight, massively heavyweight.”

All 10 teams have submitted their expenditure for last year, and the FIA will hand out certificates of compliance to those who have stayed within the budget limit.