Last year’s championship battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton was one of the most exciting in recent times, but it was also very controversial. The two came together on several occasions, with supporters often divided on who was to blame. But the battle saved the most controversy for the ending – Verstappen triumphed over Hamilton in Abu Dhabi after a late, ‘incorrect’ safety car restart.
Relations between Red Bull and Mercedes weren’t all that great, but they have further soured since then. Fans fight regularly over everything that happened in the championship battle. And recently, there have also emerged reports (by AMuS) that Red Bull committed a ‘significant’ violation of the budget cap last year. The results will be announced next week.
If they are found guilty, there is no absolute clarity or solid mention of what the punishment might be. While Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko is not particularly worried, he did admit that he could not say what will happen: “No I can’t comment at the moment, it’s an ongoing process. From our point of view, no!”
Red Bull under fire on social media
As Helmut Marko said (check the ‘Also Read’ section for full quotes), these reports being made public is ‘damaging to reputation’. And he is correct in this assessment. Even if they are not found guilty at the end, right now, they are under a lot of fire on social media. And even if they’re cleared of any potential wrongdoing, some fans have already made up their minds about it.
No one knows what it will mean for last year’s championship if Red Bull are found guilty, but a lot of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes fans propose that Driver’s title should be given back to Lewis Hamilton. There was already controversy with the ending of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and this seems to have added fuel to the fire.
But Red Bull fans had their own replies to these, with many pointing out that this is how the auditing process works. Some are also unhappy with the scrutiny surrounding the team lately. They feel this is a case of criticizing and ‘hating’ on the team that’s on top,
As mentioned before, there is no clarity on any potential punishments. A breach of 5 million or below is considered ‘minor’ while anything over it will be treated more seriously, with penalties ranging from a points deduction, a fine, to even exclusion from the championship. But even if that happens, it is unlikely that the result of the Driver’s Championship is overturned.