Toto Wolff weighs in on ‘game changer’ after Red Bull penalty

Horner opens up on Red Bull's 'barren spell' amid Mercedes dominance

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Toto Wolff has backed F1’s budget cap, describing it as a “game changer” for the sport just months after Red Bull were penalised for breaking the rules. The Mercedes boss has revealed the introduction of a cost cap was a “key change” introduced by former F1 boss Chase Carey.

He claimed teams were able to run manufacturer entries and still turn a profit which ended a development war between the top three teams. He also claimed that the smaller teams were “not competitive” under the old system, something which has improved with Haas stealing a shock pole at the Brazilian Grand Prix last year.

He said: “The key change was the cost cap introduced by Chase Carey [former executive chairman of F1] to protect us from ourselves. The situation before was that Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes were fighting in their own league in a revolving spending war, but the smaller teams were not competitive.

“The cost cap was based on a blueprint that existed in the US for a long time. In the NFL and NBA, you have a limit to what you can spend on your roster.

“F1 introduced a cost cap on technical development, which was the game changer for the business side of F1. Suddenly, we were profitable.” Wolff’s comments come just months after Red Bull were slapped with a strict penalty for breaking F1’s budget allowance.

The team overspent by £1.8million ($2,2m) but this was revised down to just £432,000 ($0.5m) after it emerged some tax reports were not filed correctly. The team were hit with a massive £5.8m ($7m) fine and were even handed sporting penalties.

These were made up of a ten per cent reduction in wind tunnel testing and CFD development for 2023.

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At the time, Red Bull boss Christian Horner described the penalty as a ”draconian” measure. Alongside winning the championship it means Red Bull will have around 12 per cent less development time than Ferrari and 17 per cent less than Mercedes.

Horner also determined the punishment could cost drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez up to half a second per lap. Despite being caught out, Horner has also previously supported the intention of the cost cap rule if some tweaks were made.

He explained: “I think it’s a very, very complicated set of regulations. And of course, they will evolve. What I would like to see is less pressure beyond the cap moving forward. Your biggest driver of costs are the technical and the sporting regs. If we put more emphasis into what those costs and how those costs are driven, by those regulations, it will in turn put less stress on the cap.”

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