Oct.8 (GMM) “Nobody knows anything” about the details of Red Bull’s alleged breach of the Formula 1 budget cap.
That is the view of F1 legend Gerhard Berger, who despite being boss of the German touring car series DTM is sitting out the final round at Hockenheim this weekend with a minor case of covid.
Instead, he told the Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung that those in the Japanese GP paddock at Suzuka and elsewhere should quieten their raging speculation about what the outcome of the budget cap saga will be.
The FIA this week delayed the release of the teams’ budget cap ‘compliance certificates’ for 2021 from Wednesday until the Monday after Suzuka.
McLaren boss Zak Brown, who is in Australia to oversee a Supercar team he co-owns for the fabled Bathurst race, said: “Based on the speculation, you can assume that a team or two haven’t complied.
“I don’t know that to be the case.”
Lewis Hamilton, who was narrowly defeated by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen last year, added: “I’d like to think that if it’s been delayed it’s because it’s being taken very seriously.
“I trust that Mohammed (bin Sulayem) is taking it seriously and will do what is right for the sport. I hope. If action wasn’t taken and there was a breach, it will put in question the integrity of the sport.”
Former F1 driver Christijan Albers agrees that a lot is at stake, and interprets the speculation and the delayed ‘certificates’ as a sign that the FIA is struggling to manage the situation.
“The FIA just doesn’t have it under control,” he said on Viaplay.
“That’s the big problem right now. The FIA just isn’t in control of the regulations. It’s a kind of horse trading where they kind of clap their hands behind the scenes.”
Former Bridgestone and Ferrari engineer Kees van de Grint agrees that if Red Bull gets away with a breach lightly, “it will be the end of the budget cap”.
“If they say ‘This is allowed and this isn’t allowed’ then we will see $200 million budgets next year. Because the teams that have that money can also afford a fine.”
With the outcome of the FIA’s probe not due until Monday, Mercedes and Ferrari bosses Toto Wolff and Mattia Binotto respectively went ahead with their plans to sit out the Japanese GP weekend.
But the saga’s shadow still lingers over Suzuka, where Verstappen could realistically seal up his 2022 drivers’ title win.
“With the amount of noise that’s been around, one can only think it’s designed to be a bit of a distraction,” said Red Bull’s Christian Horner, who is in Japan.
“We’re very happy with where we are, with where our submission for the cap is, and all of our focus is on this weekend.”
All eyes, however, will turn immediately to the FIA on Monday, when clarity about the budget cap saga is due to be forthcoming.
Until then, Gerhard Berger agrees with Horner that the story is just noise.
“Having a discussion that is not based on clear facts is pointless,” said the 63-year-old, who had had a close relationship with the energy drink company.
“It’s such a complex subject, where everyone has their specialties in how they read and interpret the regulations,” said Berger.
“If it’s been broken then there must be penalties, but nobody knows anything at the moment. And that is not a serious basis to discuss it.”