Max Verstappen faces being stripped of his first Formula One world championship title after Red Bull were accused of exceeding last year’s budget by £4.5million
Max Verstappen may be stripped of his first Formula One world championship with Red Bull embroiled in a ‘cheat storm’.
The team has come under fire after German newspaper Auto Motor und Sport reported it had exceeded last year’s budget set at £114million by £4.5m. It is understood that Red Bull’s breach would only be deemed a ‘minor violation’ under current rules, resulting in a financial penalty.
But the team could be in breach of a ‘material overspend’ if more money has in fact been spent. A potential points deductions could therefore be implemented along with ‘exclusion’ from last year’s championship, which Verstappen controversially pipped Lewis Hamilton to in the very last race at Abu Dhabi.
Now Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has called the matter a “massively heavyweight” issue. And fans have begun to speculate that Verstappen could be stripped of his first world championship, which would in turn give Hamilton a record eighth title.
When asked if the matter was serious, Wolff replied: “That’s heavyweight, that’s massively heavyweight. It was a huge, mammoth project to make the cap.
“We are using used parts, we are not running what we would want to run, and we are not developing what we could be developing. We have made more than 40 people redundant.”
Mercedes fans have unsurprisingly taken the controversy to mean Hamilton will be handed an eighth championship. One Twitter user wrote: “At this point we should just start referring to Lewis Hamilton as the 8x World Champion.”
Another added: “Lewis got disqualified in Brazil for 0.2mm, so I say that a team that exceeds the [budget] cap should be disqualified immediately as well.”
Red Bull are adamant that reports are “just speculation” at this stage. The 2022 constructors’ championship leaders claim they submitted their accounts in March and are below the cost cap.
The FIA are set to reveal their findings on Wednesday, with Aston Martin also believed to have gone over the cap.