As Max Verstappen Wins His Second Title, a Second Controversy Comes His Way

The 2022 Formula 1 season has been spectacular in only one regard, and that is how heavily Red Bull managed to dominate the sport this year.
Max Verstappen and Christian Horner 12 photos
Photo: Formula 1
Max VerstappenRed Bull on TrackRed Bull F1 TeamRed Bull on the gridRed Bull F1 Car in the PitlaneMax VerstappenFormula 1 Budged Cap Breach PenaltiesMax Verstappen on Track at SuzukaJapanese Grand PrixMax Verstappen with the Winner's Trophy at the Japanese GPMax Verstappen Winning the Japanese GP and WDC
They managed to absolutely nail the new regulations and left the competition so far in their rearview mirror that you’d think they were standing still. Compare this to the 2021 season, and that is a completely different animal. Last year, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton fought it out tooth and nail until the bitter end. By the time we reached the last race, the pair still had everything to fight for, and they certainly did so until the last lap, which decided an entire championship.

Whether you think Max earned the title or that Lewis was robbed, that is completely up to the individual fan, as arguments have never stopped since. However, what is certain is that the FIA decided the Red Bull driver should get the title, and so the story began. The entire debacle and controversy that followed cast a shadow over the legitimacy of Max’s win, and that seems to have motivated him even more to prove his worth this year.

And that he did, with Red Bull giving him a car capable of achieving wonders. With an amazing race car and his talent, he managed to secure his title as champion at the Japanese Grand Prix. However, it seems the problems of last year have followed him into this season. And they could have serious consequences as Red Bull has been accused of going over the budget cap in 2021.

Formula 1 Budged Cap Breach Penalties
Photo: Sky Sports F1
There are two levels of offense, according to the FIA’s regulations, minor and material. The separation between them is simple, with anything over 5% going from minor to material. The Milton Keynes-based team is speculated to be guilty of the latter, as allegations and rumors point at them having gone as much as 7% over budget ($10 million). For that kind of breach, a team could suffer a deduction in both constructor and driver points, as well as an outright exclusion from the championship.

Of course, there isn’t any kind of proof that any team has broken the rules just yet, but the potential ramifications of the story being true are huge. If the title-winning team of such a close Formula 1 season is found to have gone over the budget by that much, it would be beyond scandalous. Something like this could bring the sport into disrepute and alienate fans. It is an issue, especially if the FIA handles the situation incorrectly, as they seem to be doing currently with endless delays on the official announcement.

We still have another day to wait until the FIA makes its decision public, but rumors and allegations are going on left and right. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has been claiming that Red Bull is guilty of overspending for quite a few days now. He has been joined by Ferrari principal Mattia Binotto who is also keen on seeing the Milton Keynes-based team penalized.

Max Verstappen Winning the Japanese GP and WDC
Photo: Formula 1
On the flip side, Red Bull boss Christian Horner insists his team has followed the regulations and has nothing to fear. He further questions how Wolff could have gained access to any information regarding the budget cap submission of other teams.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has also joined the charade. During an interview before the Japanese GP, he stated that Red Bull managed to bring as many as four additional upgrades compared to Mercedes. He also mentioned that, with as little as $300,000 added to their budget, they could have brought a new front wing and changed the course of the championship.

Mounting even more pressure onto the situation is Toto Wolff who threatened to take Red Bull to court over the alleged infringement. However, even with Toto’s pressure and influence, the FIA is unlikely to strip Max of his 2021 title as, in the past, we have seen teams penalized rather than individual drivers.

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About the author: Bogdan Bebeselea
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As a kid, Bogdan grew up handing his dad the tools needed to work on his old Citroen and asking one too many questions about everything happening inside the engine bay. Naturally, this upbringing led Bogdan to become an engineer, but thanks to Top Gear, The Fast and the Furious series, and racing video games, a passion for automotive entertainment was ignited.
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