Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton plays with a remote controlled car ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, Japan, October 6, 2022. — Reuters pic
SUZUKA, Oct 6 — Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton said today that any team breaking Formula One’s cost cap must be punished, after governing body FIA pushed the findings of an investigation back to next week.
FIA had been due to reveal yesterday if any team had breached last season’s US$145 million (RM672 million) budget cap, but released a statement instead saying the report would be delayed until Monday, October 10.
Rival teams claimed at last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix that two teams, thought to be Red Bull and Aston Martin, had exceeded the cap, which was introduced last season to make racing more competitive.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen pipped Hamilton of Mercedes to last season’s title on the last lap of a controversial final race at Abu Dhabi.
Should any team exceed the cost cap then there are a range of penalties available, from fines for “minor” breaches of the cap all the way up to points deductions and disqualification from the championship for a serious “material” breach.
Hamilton warned the integrity of the sport was at stake as he spoke to reporters ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend at Suzuka.
“I think it’s imperative,” Hamilton said when asked if teams who are found guilty should be punished, stressing that he does not know if any teams broke the rules.
“I was expecting those results to come out yesterday. I would like to think that if it’s been delayed it’s because they’re taking it very seriously,” he said.
Hamilton said he trusted that the FIA would deal with the matter in the right way. “It would be bad for the sport if action wasn’t taken if there was a breach,” he said.
He claimed Mercedes would have been in a different position last year if they had spent more money but that was “not the name of the game”.
“I’m grateful that our team is very strict,” he said.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate George Russell said their team could “bring more performance to the table if we had more money to spend”.
Russell said he would wait for the findings but suggested that any team found guilty should have their cost limit cut for next season.
“You would expect the amount that’s gone over should be the amount that’s taken off for next year’s budget and probably a bit more on top of that as a punishment,” he said.
The FIA said the investigation was too complicated for the results to be published by yesterday.
The governing body also said that claims they had leaked details of the investigation were “baseless”.
Sebastian Vettel said it was vital to abide by the outcome of the investigation.
“You have to have a level of trust, otherwise it shakes up everything that exists in your world when you talk about racing,” said the German who won four world titles with Red Bull.
“We want to be treated fairly when we race others, and to be judged upon it you have to trust that there are regulations in place.” — AFP