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Sainz: Red Bull deserve meaningful punishment over budget cap

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Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz has called on the FIA to give Red Bull a serious punishment for breaking the F1 cost cap, to deter other teams from following suit in the future.

After the FIA confirmed Red Bull were found guilty of a ‘minor’ safety cap breach – less than $7.25million – there has yet to be a punishment dished out to the team, though many are calling for harsh sanctions.

“I just think it needs to be fair play for everyone,” Sainz told the media ahead of the 2022 United States Grand Prix.

“If there’s a cost cap it’s there to be followed and I just hope that the FIA takes the right decisions to make sure that everyone follows it.”

Part of the criticism of Red Bull has been that the overspend has also benefitted the development of their 2022 car, which has been the class of the field ahead of Sainz and Ferrari.

“I think for every team and every driver, we just want clarity first of all, and second we want fairness,” Sainz continued.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen crosses the line to win the 2022 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc | REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/Pool

“We all know how much 1, 2, 3 million [dollars] can make to car development and car speed in Formula 1, that’s why years ago everyone was spending $350 million.

“And now we’re spending $150m to get these things under control and I just hope that if there’s a penalty the penalty’s relatively important.

“It needs to take the appetite away from overspending, 2 or 3 million [dollars] to waste on next year’s car because you think next year’s car is worth it more than the other year and then you take a penalty for it.”

Sainz echoes Zak Brown comments

When he was first asked the question sat alongside Lance Stroll in the press conference, Sainz joked it wasn’t only Red Bull that’ve been found guilty of breaking the budget cap.

The Canadian wasn’t listening and missed the jest, but the rest of the F1 community have found the situation to be no laughing matter.

At the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix, before the results of the FIA’s investigation were published, Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto weighed in on the situation.

“If there is a breach, the penalty has to be significant,” Binotto said. “Our car has been developed respecting the budget cap and we know how much even a minor breach would have implied in performance.

“$5m is about half a second, $1-2m is 0.1-0.2secs, which can be the difference between second on the grid to pole.”

McLaren Chief Executive Officer Zak Brown | REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

However, the most vocal critic of Red Bull so far has been Sainz’s former boss – McLaren team principal Zak Brown.

Ahead of his home race, he wrote to the FIA accusing Red Bull of cheating on their way to a first world championship since 2013.

Brown wrote: “The overspend breach, and possibly the procedural breaches, constitute cheating by offering a significant advantage across technical, sporting and financial regulations.

“The bottom line is any team who has overspent has gained an unfair advantage both in the current and following year’s car development.

“We don’t feel a financial penalty alone would be a suitable penalty for an overspend breach or a serious procedural breach. There clearly needs to be a sporting penalty in these instances, as determined by the FIA.”

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