Mercedes boss Wolff praises FIA for Red Bull’s punishment. Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff is pleased that Red Bull has been fined by the FIA for breaching the 2021 budget cap, even if he feels the penalty could have been slightly higher. Red Bull will have to pay seven million US dollars and will have ten per cent deducted from its development time for a year.
“I think any penalty will be too little for us. For them it will be too much. But what I see as positive is the strong leadership,” Wolff told Motorsport.com.
“Nothing was swept under the carpet. The FIA stood by the process. And I think it’s very encouraging to see how things are being implemented, even though the leadership has only been in place for ten months,” the Austrian praises, describing the assessment and monitoring of the budget cap as “stable”.
Punishment harsh enough?
But that does not mean that the Mercedes boss agrees with everything. If it were up to him, there would no longer be a division into minor and major infringements.
“I think an infringement is an infringement. And that’s how it should be handled,” he says.
Red Bull was guilty of a minor infringement, which the racing team accepted. The question many are currently asking is: how harsh is the punishment actually for Red Bull?
“I think in absolute terms seven million dollars is a lot of money. But considering the investment Red Bull is making in the power unit and in the team, maybe it’s not that much,” Wolff says.
The bigger problem could become the reduced development capacity.
“Any reduction in wind tunnel time will be detrimental,” he says. “How detrimental is difficult to judge at this stage.”
This is in contrast to Red Bull boss Christian Horner who explicitly explained just how big an impact such measures would mean for his team.
“One could assume whilst these regulations are still pretty immature and the development is still steep it could be anywhere between 0.25 and 0.5 of a second in lap time.” explains the British team boss.
Nevertheless, the Mercedes motorsport boss believes that the sum of the penalties will have a deterrent effect. In addition, there is a damage to the image that no racing team wants to expose itself to. “Because of course we live in a transparent and compliant world. Our shareholders or partners demand compliance, and in that respect it’s just not up to date.”
Zero understanding of explanations
But he cannot understand the explanations of Red Bull team boss Christian Horner: “Nine teams have complied with the rules and stayed under the cap,” Wolff says.
“Formula 1 is a sport where small things make the difference. If something else is claimed, it’s silly talk. There is no mitigating factor.”
But the chapter is closed for Wolff for now. “At least I hope so, but now that we’ve closed the numbers for 2021, let’s see what they do with the 2022 submission. I think they have every interest in doing it properly this time.”
“Hopefully that’s a deterrent to it not happening again – with any other team.”