2021 World Champion Max Verstappen has revealed that he isn’t thinking about the possibility of being stripped of his first World Championship, amid growing reports that Red Bull have been found guilty of having exceeded the 2021 budget cap.
If found guilty of having exceeded last year’s budget of $145 million, then the ‘cashgate’ scandal will quickly become the biggest and most controversial Formula 1 has ever seen.
According to reports, Red Bull and Aston Martin both spent over the 2021 budget, something which F1 managing director Ross Brawn has previously said would result in disqualification from the championship.
Whilst it seems unlikely this will happen; it is one of the potential penalties in the rulebook for any team deemed guilty of having exceeded the budget.
The $145 million budget cap was introduced for the first time in 2021, in a bid to close up the field and make for a more financially fair playing grid.
This cap included any upgrades to the car, excluding the engine.
Sir Lewis Hamilton believes that even spending just £300,000 over the cap would give a team a massive advantage on track, with a new floor being around that sum of money.
If Red Bull are guilty of having overspent last season, then it throws the legitimacy of Verstappen’s championship further into question, without even regarding the way Michael Masi directed the season finale.
There is a chance that both Red Bull and Aston Martin benefitted last season from what can effectively be dubbed as an ‘illegal’ upgrade, should the upgrade have been developed using money that exceeded the budget cap.
Verstappen has understandably been asked for his thoughts on the matter and if he’s concerned about the reports; however, the championship leader is aiming to just “focus on the driving” and wait for the financial reports to be released on Monday.
“To be honest, I’m not really busy with these kinds of things,” he told Sky Sports.
“I think we have our reasons to believe that we are good and that’s what I’ve been told.
“It’s with the FIA and I just have to focus on the driving. There’s not really much more to say on that and I guess we’ll find out on Monday.”
With everything going on, it’s been somewhat swept under the carpet that Verstappen can claim the title at the Japanese Grand Prix, to become a double World Champion, at least for a day.
To win the championship this weekend Verstappen needs to outscore Charles Leclerc by six points and Sergio Pérez by eight points, which most likely means the Dutchman will need to win the race and claim the fastest lap.