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Wolff praises FIA for “robust” cost cap punishment

The Mercedes team principal shared his thoughts on Red Bull’s penalty

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Mercedes’ Toto Wolff commended the FIA for penalising Red Bull for breaching the 2021 budget cap. 

Toto Wolff and Sir Lewis Hamilton have not been able to celebrate earning the drivers’ title since 2020 (Photo by Kenan Asyali – Pool/Getty Images)

News of the team that took Max Verstappen to his first world title overspending last season has dominated the past month. 

Now that the FIA has finally revealed their punishment, Wolff expressed his joy at what he considers to be a reasonable consequence. 

Wolff’s view on the penalty

Yesterday, the FIA confirmed that Red Bull must pay a fine of $7m and suffer a 10 per cent reduction in car development. 

This followed weeks of speculation, where the team denied breaching the 2021 cost cap. 

The governing body found that Red Bull spent an extra $2.2m, which is a 1.6 per cent overspend. 

Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of the Mexico City Grand Prix, Wolff commented on the harshness of the punishment. 

“I think what is the most important for me is that there is a robust governance,” he said. “They [the FIA] didn’t budge an eyelid, they just followed the process how it went.

“They were absolutely good in assessing. I know how rigorous they were with us all throughout the year. That was a difficult process.

“When I’m seeing 13 positions that were wrong, with us it wasn’t the case.

“Overall, it’s good to see that there is a penalty, whether we deem it too low or too high.”

Could Mercedes choose to overspend in the future?

Reactions to the punishment have been divided, with some believing it is too lenient and not enough to deter other teams from breaching the cost cap.

Verstappen beat Wolff’s protege Lewis Hamilton to the 2021 title, so it is understandable that the Austrian is happier than anyone at the news of Red Bull’s penalty. 

He implied to Sky Sports that he would be wary of allowing Mercedes to stoop to his rival’s level.

He said: 

I think what you see is that beyond a sporting penalty and financial fine, it’s also reputational damage. In a world of transparency and good governance, that’s just not on anymore.”

Wolff went on to state that each team is responsible for representing a brand, so becoming known for rulebreaking is not an option. 

Furthermore, Red Bull’s reduction in wind tunnel time could greatly benefit Mercedes. 

With the German team set to finish third this season, they will have more development time. 

Mattia Binotto, Christian Horner and Toto Wolff at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza (Photo by Alessio Morgese/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Add this to Red Bull’s punishment and it seems that Mercedes could see some significant gains next year. 

“I think any reduction in wind tunnel time is going to cost you some performance,” Wolff said.

“We’ve been in the fortunate situation that we won the championship [in 2021], so for 18 months we had seven per cent less than Red Bull every single half year. 

“Overall that adds up, and if you look at Ferrari’s performance, they were sixth the previous year, so massively more performance.

“So we are, unfortunately, benefitting from being third on the road, with 14 per cent more on the leader, and then we have another 10 per cent, so that is quite a lot, but it needs to be well utilised.”

Featured Image Credit: Getty Images

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