Lewis Hamilton says a minor budget overrun could have been enough to change the outcome of the 2021 championship.
The FIA is preparing to issue certificates of compliance to Formula 1 teams that have adhered to the $145 million spending limit, which was first introduced last year. However, the decision was delayed until October 10 due to speculation that more than one team may not have remained within the limits.
Reports suggest that Red Bull, whose driver Max Verstappen beat Hamilton in the championship by eight points last year, did not comply with the restrictions.
The head of Red Bull, Christian Horner, repeatedly insisted that the data submitted by the FIA show that they are within the budget.
However, Hamilton says Red Bull brought more upgrades to their car in the second half of last season than Mercedes.
The Briton believes that the outcome of the championship would have been different if his team could have spent more on their car.
“I remember last year at Silverstone we had our last upgrade and luckily it was great and we were able to fight with it,” said Hamilton. “But then we saw Red Bull every weekend or every other weekend bringing upgrades. They’ve had, I think, at least four more upgrades since that point.”
“If we had, if we had spent 300,000 on a new floor or an adapted wing, it would have changed the outcome of the championship, of course, because we would have been in better competition in the next race you had. So I hope that’s not the case, for the sport.”
A “minor violation” of financial regulation is defined as excessive spending of up to 5%, which in 2021 amounted to $7.25 million.
Last year’s world championship ended in controversy when race director Michael Masi failed to follow the rules when he arranged a last-lap restart in the final race of the season. The FIA, under president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, publicly admitted the mistake, replaced Masi in his role and made other changes to race management.
Hamilton believes Mohammed Ben Sulayem will handle the budget cap controversy correctly and transparently.
“I trust that Mohammed Ben Sulayem and the FIA will do the right thing with what they find. This is what we have to believe in,” he stressed.
The FIA has been criticized for its handling of past controversies. in 2020, before Mohammed Ben Sulayem replaced Jean Todt.
Transparency is “always very important,” Hamilton explains. “Especially with all the fans listening and traveling the world.”
“It’s important for all of us, all the people who work, thousands of people who work, I think it’s important to have transparency throughout the organization, and accountability is something we must always stick to.”
“We have seen in previous years in sports where things were resolved in the background. I don’t think it’s a new way forward with a new way of working with Mohammed Ben Sulayem. I think integrity is very important to him as it is for F1 today with the new management. Therefore, I think we have good people. I hope we get the right administration.”