Toto Wolff reveals Red Bull’s ‘biggest penalty’ for Cashgate Scandal

Red Bull were found guilty of breaching the 2021 cost cap earlier this year, with the team’s overspend falling in the ‘minor’ category.

Having comfortably won both championships in 2022, Red Bull looked set for a season free of stress and controversy.

This was not the case however as the Singapore Grand Prix brought with it accusations that the energy drink giants had spent more than the permitted $145m in 2021, following the introduction of the FIA’s budget cap.

The team were eventually found guilty of a minor breach of the cap, caused by multiple small overspends that can be put down to tax miscalculations and misinterpretations of the complex rules of the cap.

The team have been punished with a $7m fine and had their wind tunnel testing time for 2023 reduced by ten percent after negotiations with the FIA that were long and drawn out.

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Zak Brown penned a letter to the FIA branding Red Bull as cheats, while the media caused a storm surrounding the ‘cashgate’ scandal without any real evidence, tarnishing the reputation of the team in the process.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has now admitted that the reputational damage done to Red Bull is the biggest deterrent to any team considering breaching the cap, claiming that the effect on Red Bull as a brand has been significant.

“I think the biggest penalty was not the ten percent wind tunnel time or the seven million dollars, I think the biggest penalty was the reputational hut that the team got and, in a way, it’s unfair for the Red Bull mother brand which is fantastic in their field,” said the Austrian.

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“In a world of transparency and good governance, it’s not just on anymore. Whatever team you are, you’re responsible for representing a brand, your employees and your partners, and that’s why for us it wouldn’t be [something we would consider.]”

While Red Bull will be hindered by their reduced testing time in 2023, Mercedes will be looking to take advantage of their wounded rivals and return to the top step of the podium, where they believe they belong.

The Silver Arrows have claimed that their 2022 shortcomings have made them more motivated than ever and they have already fired up the W14 prior to the Christmas break, showing the world that they are on track to produce their competitor for next season.