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Wolff: FIA must take "robust stance" if F1 teams broke budget cap

Toto Wolff says that FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem should take a robust stance and show “integrity and leadership” if Formula 1 teams are proven to have busted the 2021 budget cap.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

The FIA is due to issue compliance certificates soon to the teams that operated within last year's cap.

However, paddock sources indicate that when the final accounting has been completed both Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin are likely to be reported as having breached the cap.

The financial regulations contain a list of potential penalties for both "minor" and "material" breaches.

The Aston Martin case is believed to be a minor breach of less than 5%, or around $7m, over the 2021 limit.

However, in Red Bull's case, sources suggest that it could be a material breach of over 5%, which would carry a much tougher penalty.

Sanctions available to the FIA even include "exclusion from the championship".

The situation is seen by many in the paddock as a significant test case for Ben Sulayem and his team as an overspend last year would have been beneficial not just for the 2021 world championship, but for this year's as well, given the development programme for 2022 cars.

Wolff, who discussed the matter with Ferrari opposite number Mattia Binotto on Friday in Singapore, is adamant that the FIA must come down hard if a team is proven to have overspent.

"The cost cap is probably the most important evolution of regulations in order to keep a level playing field," said Wolff.

"And to allow teams that haven't got the full budget to catch up and to put the ceiling onto the spending of the top teams. So, it is of huge importance for a demonstration that these regulations are policed.

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

"And I have no reason to believe otherwise. The FIA, particularly Mohammed, have shown a pretty robust stance on enforcing all kinds of regulations.

"So I think if we're talking now about something big, he will show the same integrity and leadership that he's done before."

Asked if a potential breach by Red Bull compromised last year's title battle Wolff declined to go into specifics.

"I have no information at that stage if they are in breach, by how much they are in breach. And obviously being in breach in one year, means you're probably in breach of a second year, and potentially a third year.

"And once that is clarified, I'm sure lots of discussions are going to take off. about what effect it would have. But it's too early at this stage to comment."

UPDATE: The FIA has responded to speculation of cost cap breaches and states no judgement will be made until it completes its assessments.

"The FIA is currently finalising the assessment of the 2021 financial data submitted by all Formula 1 teams. Alleged breaches of the Financial Regulations, if any, will be dealt with according to the formal process set out in the regulations," an FIA statement read.

"The FIA notes significant and unsubstantiated speculation and conjecture in relation to this matter, and reiterates that the assessment is ongoing and due process will be followed without consideration to any external discussion."

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