The Formula 1 Cost Cap Scandal

If you follow the sport of Formula 1, even just casually, then I am sure you will have heard of the controversy that happened at the end of last season. Almost a year later and here we are, still debating the rightful World Champion of the 2021 season. But recently, things got a little more interesting. 

World Drivers Champion 2021 

The fight for the championship last year was one of the most exciting that we’ve seen in a long time, something I’m sure Mercedes and RedBull fans alike can agree on. The fight was neck and neck between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen throughout the whole season, but no one expected the season to end the way that it did. 

The pair went into the final race of the season of equal points and with Verstappen in pole position and Hamilton lurking behind in second, and we knew it was going to be the fight of a lifetime. In the race’s final stages, Williams Racing driver Nicholas Latifi crashed into the barriers and a safety car was released onto the track, and that’s where the controversy started. 

When Latifi crashed, Hamilton was in the first position and was set to win the race, with Max behind him in second. As many fans of the sport are aware, if you make a pit stop under a safety car, you lose a lot less time compared to a normal pit stop. Red Bull, seeing that Hamilton decided to stay out, chose to pit Verstappen, leaving him on fresher, quicker tyres. Cue the Toto Wolff and Christian Horner voice messages. 

With Horner telling the race director, Michael Masi, that all they needed was “one racing lap”, the questionable decision was made. Typically under a safety car, before it ends, lapped cars are allowed to un-lap themselves by overtaking the safety car. In this instance, the only cars that were allowed to overtake were the five cars between Hamilton and Verstappen, leaving the Red Bull on quicker, fresher tyres, fighting behind the Mercedes, and ready to attack. 

Unsurprisingly, Max was able to catch Lewis and win his first-ever World Championship. Many F1 fans discredit this and still believe Lewis is the rightful champion. This sparked massive arguments on whether the championship was fixed to benefit Max and Red Bull. 

Months later, the FIA declared the incident a “human error” and Michael Masi was fired from his position as race director. Despite this, Max’s championship still stood firm. 

Cost Cap Corruption

You may be wondering why this is still being talked about almost a year later, but recently, a report came out expressing that two teams had potentially breached their budget for 2021. These two teams were Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing.

Rumours started flying around that the previously mentioned teams had breached their budgets throughout the 2021 season, and thus an investigation was launched by the FIA. Whilst the investigation was going on, F1 twitter was going crazy, particularly Lewis Hamilton fans, who were demanding that if the claims were true, then Hamilton should be rightfully declared the World Champion in 2021, making him the first-ever 8x World Champion. 

The report was originally meant to be published on Wednesday 5th of October but was pushed back until the 10th, after the Japanese Grand Prix. There were speculations that the release date was pushed back due to the fact that Max Verstappen had the potential to win the World Championship at this race, which he managed to do. People believed that the FIA were waiting to see if Max could get the title, in case the breach meant that the 2021 championship would need to be retracted. 

The report found that Aston Martin had committed a procedural breach, but their spending was still below the cap. Red Bull Racing, however, was found to have committed a “minor overspend breach”. This means that they overspend by less than 5%, which is up to $7.25 million. Red Bull have claimed that the overspending was on “catering and absenteeism” but recently there have been talks that Adrian Newey’s salary was not properly documented, which may mean that the breach was more extreme

Possible Penalties

The FIA has not yet announced what the punishment will be for Red Bull for breaching the budget, however, people have been speculating on social media. Some people believe that it should be the constructor’s championship points deduction, others believe that Max should have last year’s title taken away. One thing that is for sure is that team principles like Mattia Binotto and Toto Wolff are not taking the breach lightly. 

Toto Wolff hasn’t been shy about the fact that if the punishment isn’t severe enough, then Mercedes won’t hold back on going over budget next year. This is in hopes that it will convince the FIA to be strict with their punishment for Red Bull. 

At the time of writing this, no punishment has yet been issued, although I’m sure that whatever the result is, fans will still not be happy. If it affects Max’s World Championships, then Red Bull fans will complain. If it is too lenient, then not only will fans of the sport be annoyed, but you can guarantee the team principles from rival teams will have plenty to say to the FIA

Written by Stephen Taylor, Propaganda CEO

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