Hamilton says F1's integrity is at stake over Red Bull overspend

Lewis Hamilton says Formula One’s integrity will be lost if Red Bull went over £114m spending cap last year and escape punishment… as Max Verstappen swerves questions on the issue ahead of Japanese Grand Prix

  • Red Bull allegedly breached the £114million spending limit last year 
  • The breach was minor and so Max Verstappen won’t be stripped of his title
  • But rival Lewis Hamilton says the FIA should punish Red Bull for the overspend 
  • Verstappen was in no mood to discuss the issue at the Japanese Grand Prix  

Lewis Hamilton claims the integrity of Formula One will be lost if the FIA fail to punish any breaches of the sport’s cost-cap.

The issue of spending regulations – set at £114million for 2021 and applies to car developments and performance ability – has been the talk of the paddock since reports in Italy last week alleged Red Bull may have overspent, something they strongly denied.

Sportsmail exclusively revealed that Max Verstappen’s maiden championship is not at risk of being stripped but, nonetheless, there is a great level of interest in the final spending figures, particularly over in the Mercedes garage.

Lewis Hamilton believes the integrity of Formula One as a sport is at risk if Red Bull overspent on their cars last year and aren’t punished for exceeding the £114million cap

Max Verstappen won’t be stripped of his 2021 title with Red Bull committing a minor breach

An announcement on the accounts was due on Wednesday but has been delayed until Monday by the FIA and Hamilton is adamant that any breach over £114m cannot go unpunished if the sport is to continue to be viewed as open, honest and trustworthy.

‘I think it’s imperative, honestly, just for transparency,’ Hamilton said.

‘I think we need to continue to have transparency for the fans, for the integrity of the sport.

‘Obviously there’s lots of conversations that are going on in the background. No one truly knows. There’s different numbers and different things being said here and there, so I was expecting those results – like you – to come out yesterday.

‘I would like to think that if it’s been delayed it’s because it’s been taken very seriously and I trust that Mohammed (bin Sulayem) is taking it seriously and will do what is right for the sport, I hope.

Lewis Hamilton (front) was controversially pipped to the title last season by Verstappen

Red Bull chief Christian Horner has denied the spending cap accusations aimed at his team

‘I think it would be bad for the sport if action wasn’t taken if there was a breach.’

Hamilton deliberately didn’t name Red Bull in his early morning press conference amid the ongoing budget cap circus but is under no illusions of how much his title rival from last year were spending on upgrades last season.

In a thinly veiled swipe, Hamilton said: ‘It’ll put in question our values, the integrity of the sport.

‘I remember last year as a driver, you were always asking for updates, updates, updates on things, whether it’s fuel, whatever it is. 

‘And I remember in Silverstone when we got our last update and I remember that was almost three tenths, and I’m pretty certain it cost less than a million.

Hamilton smiles as he talks to the media in the paddock ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix 

‘But I remember after that needing more updates – but then seeing trucks of updates continuing to arrive on the other car, thinking ‘jeez, it’s going to be hard to beat them in the championship if they keep bringing updates’.’

So, would more money for Mercedes, who gave Hamilton his last upgrade at the British Grand Prix last season, really have changed the complexion of the 2021 title race?

‘If we had another half a million to spend we would have been in a different position at some of the following races if we were just bought another floor which we could have easily done but that’s not the name of the game.

‘I’m grateful that our team is very strict, given the way we work and they do an amazing job. So it needs to be taken seriously as I said.’

As for Verstappen, he had no interest at all in discussing it as questions were fired in a round in his briefing.

Championship leader Max Verstappen had little interest in discussing the matter on Thursday

‘To be honest, I’m not really busy with these kind of things. It’s up to the teams and with the FIA and I just need to focus on the driving. There’s not much more to say on that. I guess we’ll find out on Monday.’

In other news, Hamilton revealed his future at Mercedes, while not in any doubt, is still being ironed out.

Asked about team boss Toto Wolff’s ‘five more years’ remarks, he said: ‘I haven’t spoken to him about his comments but I can’t say just yet.

‘I’m feeling good. I love what I’m doing. We have a lot of work to do, a lot to achieve still. So I’m not planning on going anywhere, any time soon. I plan on staying longer. It’s just not set in stone how long.

‘I plan on staying with Mercedes for the rest of my life, that’s a definite.’

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