Toto Wolff shoots down Christian Horner: “There’s no mitigating factor”

© Jiri Krenek for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Toto Wolff has dismissed Christian Horner’s explanations for Red Bull’s cost cap breach, and said “this is a sport of marginal gains, and everything else is just chatter”.

The FIA has revealed Red Bull’s punishment for breaching the 2021 cost cap. The team has received a $7m fine, and its wind tunnel and CFD testing time will be reduced by 10%.

Asked whether the penalty is enough, Toto Wolff said:

“I think as for any penalty, for us, it’s too little, for them, it will be too much.

“I think any reduction in wind tunnel time is going to be detrimental. How detrimental is difficult to judge at this stage.

“I think in absolute terms, $7m is a lot of money. But maybe in the bigger scheme of things for Red Bull, considering the investment they do on the power unit side and on the team, it’s not.”

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The Austrian then added that the outcome of the cost cap issue will serve as a deterrent for other teams.

“I think that the sum of the penalties is a deterrent, the sporting penalty, and to a lesser degree, the financial fine.

“But reputational damage that is happening is probably the biggest thing, and no team will want to come anywhere near that, because obviously, we are living in a transparent and compliant world.

“Our shareholders or our partners demand compliance, and in that respect that’s just not on anymore.”

When asked about Christian Horner’s explanation why Red Bull breached the cap, and his insistence that the overspent did not enhance performance, Wolff said:

“Nine teams complied with the regulations and stayed below the cap. This is a sport of marginal gains, and everything else is just chatter. There’s no mitigating factor.”

Ultimately, Wolff says he is pleased with how the FIA handled this issue overall.

“What I take as a positive is the strong governance. Nothing was brushed under the carpet. The FIA stood by the process.

“And I think that although the administration has only been in place for 10 months, it’s very encouraging to see things executed.

“That’s the really positive of the process. Mohammed [Ben Sulayem, FIA president], with a strong group of individuals, Federico [Lodi, head of financial regulations], Shaila Ann [Rao, interim secretary general for sport] and Nikolas [Tombazis, single-seater technical head], ensured that the assessment and the policing of the cost cap was robust.

“And that is what I take as a positive out of the whole process. What we need to tidy up is the minor and major breaches.

“I think a breach is a breach, and that’s how it should be handled,” the Austrian concluded.

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