Horner warns of repercussions


Red Bull boss, Christian Horner threatens legal action as he demands rivals withdraw their "defamatory" claims.

Horner came out all guns blazing in the face of mounting pressure from the likes of Williams, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and, of course, Mercedes, as the budget cap saga continues to overshadow the Singapore weekend.

While Toto Wolff claims that Red Bull's overspending has been an "open secret" for some time, other teams joined the pile-on.

Without a hint of irony, Ferrari's Laurent Mekies called on the FIA for "complete transparency", even though the Italian team reached a secret settlement with the sport's governing body just two years ago following its investigation of its 2019 power unit.

"It's now no secret that two teams broke the 2021 budget cap regulations," Mekies told Sky Italia, "one by a significant amount, the other less so.

"We regard this as something very serious," he continued, "and we expect the FIA to manage the situation in exemplary fashion.

"We trust the FIA 100 percent," he added. "They have taken a very strong position in recent weeks and months on other issues. Therefore we expect that, for such a serious matter, there will be complete transparency and maximum penalties to ensure we are all racing within the same rules, because their impact on car performance is huge."

"Because we are a small team, the Financial Regulation was the biggest move of the F1 over the last 20 years," said Alfa Romeo's Frederic Vasseur. "We don't have to jeopardise something like this for lack of decision. If it's the end of the cost-cap, for me it's not the end of the F1 but almost.

"We have to take action," he warned. "It's not a matter of X millions or whatever, because I don't want to disclose numbers, but the budget of development of Alfa Romeo is something like 2.4 millions over the season... we are speaking about three times this. It's a mega amount, okay?

"I remember perfectly that I was disqualified for 0.9mm two years ago," he added, Mercedes, something like 1mm in Sao Paulo last year. You have to put everything in perspective."

Amidst mounting pressure in the media and the sense that his team has been found guilty even before it has been confirmed that there is even a case to be answered, Horner hit out.

"We made the submission in March," he said. "We stand absolutely, 100% behind that submission that we are below the cap.

"That submission has to be signed off by your auditors," he continued, "obviously ours is one of the big three, and then it goes through a process with the FIA, a little bit like an audit, where there are questions and interpretations that are raised and discussed.

"That process is ongoing with the FIA who haven't, obviously, completed their process at this point in time. They made that clear in a statement they put out yesterday evening.

"So we await with interest to see the final outcome of that process, which is hopefully in the near future, but remain absolutely confident that we've absolutely complied with the cap."

Admitting that Red Bull was "a little bit taken aback by comments that were coming from two of our rival teams yesterday", Horner admitted to being intrigued at how those teams had learned of team's submission to the FIA.

"The submission between the team and the FIA is one that is confidential," he said. "I have no idea what the outcome of our rivals' submissions are or their accounting treatment and so on.

"I'd be intrigued to know where their source of information for these fictitious claims have come from," he admitted. "They're hugely defamatory. We take umbrage to them.

"One can only assume it's not coincidental that this is at a point where Max has his first strike at a world championship.

"How on earth do they have this information, where do they have this knowledge? The FIA have even stated they haven't even completed their process.

"Unless there is a clear withdrawal of those statements we will be taking it incredibly seriously," he warned, "and looking at what the options available to us are because it is absolutely unacceptable to be making comments of the type that were made yesterday.

"It's totally defamatory to the team, to the brands and even to Formula 1, and I'd be intrigued to know where their source of information has come from."

Referring to Toto Wolff's claim that Red Bull's overspend was an "open secret" within the paddock, Horner said: "The facts are such that a submission is made to the FIA and it is a private submission between the team and the FIA. So how on earth can any team know the detail of our submission? How can any team know that a team is in breach or not?

"We don't even know if we're in breach. We don't even know until next week, when the process has been completed. So perhaps, when these accusation are made, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

"We take umbrage and extremely seriously the remarks that have been made because is it any coincidence that Max has his first shot at winning a world title and here we are talking nothing but cost caps rather than the phenomenal performance he has had this year?

"I think it's an underhand tactic that's been employed to detract from perhaps a lack of performance this year.

"Of course when references are made to last year, this year, next year, we're going to take that extremely seriously. So this is an issue for the FIA to deal with but also for Red Bull to consider what our position is with those comments that have been made."

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Published: 01/10/2022
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