Lewis Hamilton has said that Red Bull’s alleged cost cap breach ‘would have changed the outcome of the championship’ in 2021.
Formula 1 has arrived at the iconic Suzuka circuit for the first time in three years with the backdrop of ongoing cost cap talk.
Results of the FIA’s findings on whether or not constructors fell within the $145million [£114m] cap were expected to be released on October 5, but that’s now been delayed by five days.
Breaches of the budget range from points penalties for going less than five per cent over, all the way up to potential ‘expulsion from the championship’ if figures end up over five per cent.
The Singapore Grand Prix saw a confrontational back-and-forth between Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and Red Bull’s Christian Horner via the media, with Wolff saying the matter is a ‘heavyweight issue’ and Horner threatening legal action over ‘defamatory’ remarks.
The issue should have been resolved ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, but with the date now put back, questions have arisen again, with Lewis Hamilton now having his say.
“It’s not something I think about 2021, I don’t know enough about it, there’s all these whispers,” he told the media.
“What I can say is I remember last year in Silverstone we had our last upgrade and fortunately it was great and we could fight with it.
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“But then we would see Red Bull every weekend or every other weekend bringing upgrades. They had, I think, at least four more upgrades from that point.
“If we spent £300,000 on a new floor, or adapted a wing, it would have changed the outcome of the championship naturally because we would have been in better competition in the next race if you add it on.
“So, I hope that that’s not the case. I do believe Mohammed [Ben Sulayem, FIA president] and the FIA will do what is right with whatever they find out so that’s what we have to have faith in.”
Hamilton eventually lost the 2021 championship to Verstappen in a final lap showdown in Abu Dhabi last year, the first season where the cost cap came into effect.
Wolff has said any advantage gained last year will have ramifications into the preceding two campaigns, and Hamilton has now asked for transparency on the matter.
“1000 per cent, transparency is always very important,” he said. “Particularly with all the fans that tune in and travel around the world.
“I think it’s important for all of us, plus all the people that are working, the thousands who work in the sport, I think it’s important to have transparency throughout the organisation.
“And accountability is something that we always have to hold true to. We’ve seen in previous years of the sport where things have been dealt with in the background, I don’t think that’s the new way forward with the new way of working with Mohammed.
“I think integrity is very important to him and as is F1 nowadays with a new management, so I think we have good people in place. I hope that we get the right governance.”
Reigning world champion Verstappen, who is on the brink of his second title at Suzuka, was also asked about the rumours, and said it’s none of his concern.
“That should have been the case already right?” he said in regards to the report being delayed.
“I think we have our reasons to believe we’re good, that’s what I’ve been told and we’ll find out on Monday.
“It’s also something between the team and the FIA, it’s not really up to me, I’m here to drive fast and try to give the best result to the team.”