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Verstappen focusing on the job as F1 spending row builds

October 21, 2022 World Sports

AUSTIN, Texas: Double Formula One world champion Max Verstappen said he was just focusing on his job as rivals called on Thursday (Oct 20) for the governing FIA to come down hard on his Red Bull team for breaching last year’s spending rules.

Red Bull can seal their first constructors’ world championship since 2013 at the US Grand Prix on Sunday but the achievement risks being overshadowed by the cost cap row.

The governing FIA said on Oct 10 that Red Bull were guilty of a “minor overspend” last year, but gave no details.

Media reports have indicated the team were US$1.8 million over the US$145 million cap, with McLaren boss Zak Brown saying this week that any team in breach were effectively cheating.

The situation has become a major test for the FIA and the cap, which was introduced last year but risks being undermined if not effectively enforced.

“Nothing has been confirmed yet but as a team we know what we have to deal with and I think we were very clear with what we think was correct,” Verstappen told Sky Sports television at the Circuit of the Americas.

Verstappen, who won his second title a day before the breach was confirmed, suggested rivals who questioned Red Bull’s performance were reacting to the team’s success.

“They try to slow us down in any way possible. That’s how F1 works … everyone is at the end of the day a bit hypocritical. I’m fine with that. We just have to focus on our job,” he said.

Team mate Sergio Perez agreed.

“There are always teams that want to take performance out of you, especially when you are winning,” said the Mexican. “It’s part of the sport, and this has been the case forever. I just think it’s a normal situation.

“Facts will come out and people will see and understand the situation.”

Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, who was team mate to seven- times world champion Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in 2021, told reporters Red Bull should be handed a “strict and harsh” penalty.

“I feel like rules are the rules and if you don’t follow them there should be a penalty that really hurts,” said the Finn.

“I was in the fight last year for the constructors’ and we got that but missed the drivers’ title by a few points and a few millions can make a big, big difference.”

Hamilton and Verstappen went into the last race of 2021 level on points, with the Red Bull driver winning after a late safety car controversy.

“Spending millions more and then only having a slap on the wrist won’t be great for the sport. They might as well not have a cost cap in future,” said Hamilton.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz said teams and drivers wanted clarity and fairness.

“I just think it needs to be fair play for everyone, and if there’s a cost cap it needs to be followed and I just hope the FIA takes the right decision to make sure everyone follows it,” said the Spaniard.

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