Stopping short of accusing Red Bull of breaking the budget cap in 2021, Lewis Hamilton says if Mercedes had matched them for late-season upgrades it would have “changed the outcome of the championship”.
Last season, with Formula 1 operating under a new budget cap that was set at $145 million, Mercedes and Red Bull went wheel-to-wheel for the World title.
As momentum swung between the two, Mercedes introduced their last big upgrade of the season at the British Grand Prix, Red Bull continued with several more and even brought a revised underbody to the penultimate race in Saudi Arabia.
It had rivals pondering as to how Red Bull were managing the upgrades given that the rest of the field was struggling to stay within the cap.
Hamilton says if Mercedes had done the same, it would have changed the outcome of the championship.
“It’s not something I hadn’t been thinking about, 2021, during this season,” he told Sky Sports F1 asked about the Red Bull budget cap saga and its impact on the title race.
“I think I don’t know enough about it. Obviously there’s whispers of all these different things so I can’t say anything really.
“But what I can say is I remember last year in Silverstone we had our last upgrade and fortunately it was great and we could fight with it.
“But then we would see Red Bull every weekend or every other weekend bringing upgrades. They had, I think, at least four more upgrades from that point.
“If we spent 300,000 on a new floor, or adapted a wing, it would have changed the outcome of the championship naturally because we would have been in better competition in the next race if you add it on.
“So I hope that that’s not the case.
“And I just hope that, I do believe Mohammed [Ben Sulayem] and the FIA will do what is right with whatever they find out. So that’s what we have to have faith in.”
Hamilton lost last year’s championship to Max Verstappen, the two going into the season finale in Abu Dhabi tied on points with Verstappen taking the title in a last-lap-of-the-season pass.
The FIA was initially expected to reveal their findings into last year’s team budgets on Wednesday but delayed that to Monday 10th October.
Hamilton just hopes that when the report does come out there is full transparency.
“1,000%,” he said. “I think transparency is always essential.
“It’s always very important, particularly with all the fans that tune in and travel around the world.
“I think it’s important for all of us, plus all the people that are working, the 1000s, I think it’s important to have transparency throughout the organisation.
“And accountability is something that we always have to hold true too. We’ve seen in previous years of the sport where things have been dealt with in the background… I don’t think that’s the new way forward with the new way of working with Muhammad.
“I think integrity is very important to him and as is F1 nowadays with a new management so I think we have good people in place. I hope that we get the right governance.”