Christian Horner hits back at Lewis Hamilton’s ‘slap on the wrist’ cap penalty criticism

Michelle Foster
Christian Horner on the pit wall. Baku, April 2023.

Christian Horner on the pit wall. Baku, April 2023.

Christian Horner has told Lewis Hamilton it’s “easy to throw shade when you’re not performing” after the Briton called Red Bull’s budget cap penalty a “slap on the wrist”.

As Formula 1 prepares to hear the results of the FIA’s audit into the teams’ 2022 spending, it has been reported – although said to have been denied by motorsport’s governing body – that as many as three teams exceeded the cap.

Hamilton told the Sky F1 that he wouldn’t be surprised given there “wasn’t really a big punishment last time so there’s no real [deterrent]. There’ll be people that will probably go for it again, and know they’re just gonna get slapped on the wrist.”

Christian Horner: It’s always easy to throw shade when you’re not performing

The Mercedes driver was referring to Red Bull’s penalty for breaching the financial regulations in 2021 which saw the Milton Keynes squad slapped with a $7 million fine while also losing 10 percent of their Aerodynamic Testing Restriction allocation.

But that doesn’t seem to have hurt Red Bull with the team racing out to 10 wins for this season, nine pole positions and a 208-point lead in the Constructors’ Championship while also holding down the 1-2 in the Drivers’ standings.

This weekend in Hungary they also introduced their second big upgrade package of the season which included revised sidepods, inlets, front and rear corner as well as a new-look floor and floor edge.

Hamilton added: “We have people in place who are supposed to police that, but it doesn’t surprise me because it was not a big penalty before.”

His team-mate George Russell also isn’t impressed, saying: “There were breaches last year and clearly the punishment didn’t fit the crime. We don’t want to be seeing that happen again and if it’s a second-time offender the punishment should be even greater than what perhaps is a fair punishment.”

Horner has responded to the Mercedes team-mates’ criticism by calling it nothing more than a case of sour grapes. recommends

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“Believe me, the hit that we’ve taken with the lack of wind tunnel time that we have compared to our competitors is a massive compromise,” the Red Bull team boss told Sky Sports. “If wind tunnels don’t count then why don’t we just get rid of them?

“It’s always easy to throw shade when you’re not performing. It’s one of the things in Formula One that will always continue to happen.”

He added: “I’m just incredibly proud of the job that our team’s doing with the constraints and handicap that we have.

“To be performing at the level we have this year, to have achieved 11 straight victories… it’s been an outstanding achievement.”

Last time out at the British Grand Prix, Max Verstappen made it a perfect 10 for the season for Red Bull while the team’s 11th win in a row equalled McLaren’s 1988 record for the most consecutive wins. This weekend in Hungary, Red Bull are looking to break it.

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