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Formula 1

Hamilton hints extra $300k would have won him 2021 F1 title

by Josh Suttill
3 min read

Lewis Hamilton hints he would have won the 2021 Formula 1 drivers’ championship if Mercedes had spent an extra $300,000 last season amid speculation over cost cap breaches.

The FIA was initially supposed to reveal any cost cap breaches this past Wednesday but has delayed the announcement until the Monday following this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.

It’s only increased tension following substantial talk over the Singapore GP weekend of two rumoured offences, including one from Red Bull.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said he was “absolutely confident” in the team’s financial submission and said his team was “significantly below” the cost cap last year. And the FIA has been firm in rebuffing “significant and unsubstantiated speculation and conjecture” relating to the results of the cost cap certification.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen beat Hamilton by a single point in last year’s hard-fought title battle that accumulated in a controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that triggered an FIA review and led to a major overhaul of the FIA’s officiating process.

Lewis Hamilton Max Verstappen F1 Abu Dhabi

At Suzuka, Hamilton was inevitability asked what it would mean if Red Bull had breached the $145 million – plus additional allowances for the 22-race calendar and three sprint races – cap.

“I don’t want to say anything really but what 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,” he told Sky ahead of the Japanese GP weekend.

“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 had spent $300,000 on a new floor or an adapted wing it would have changed the outcome of the championship, naturally, because we would have been in better competition in the next race you had it on.

“So I hope that that’s not the case, for the sport.”

When subsequently asked about Hamilton’s comments regarding Red Bull’s 2021 upgrades, Verstappen told Sky: “We have our reasons to believe we are good [in terms of budget cap compliance]. That’s what I’ve been told. And we’ll find out on Monday.”

Hamilton added in a later session that he was “grateful” that his Mercedes team is “very strict” to the rules.

“I think we need to continue to have transparency for the fans and the integrity of the sport,” Hamilton said.

“I don’t really know enough about it, I know there’s a lot of conversations going on in the background, different numbers and things here and there.

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes F1

“I was expecting those results, like you, to come out yesterday. I would like to think that if it’s been delayed, it’s been taken very seriously, and I really trust [FIA president] Mohammed [Ben Sulayem] will do his job seriously and do what is right for the sport I hope.

“Yeah, I think it would be bad for the sport if action wasn’t taken if there’s a breach. I don’t know if there is. I’ll wait for Monday.”

His Mercedes team-mate George Russell said it wasn’t “his duty to dive into the details” and he’ll wait for the results on Monday.

He echoed Hamilton’s “trust” in Ben Sulayem to “bring an appropriate punishment” for anybody who is found guilty of breaching the cost cap and suggested how it could be dealt with.

George Russell Mercedes F1

“It should be quite straightforward,” Russell said.

“You’d expect the amount that’s gone over should be the amount that’s taken off for next year’s budget, and a bit more on top of that, as a punishment.”

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