Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton has said that he is not ‘giving much attention’ to reports that he could be handed last season’s world title. It has been speculated that Red Bull could be stripped of the award due to potentially exceeding the £114m budget cap.
The victory last season is already coated in controversy, and a change of hands for the title would be the final twist in the tail of the story. Red Bull have denied claims that they surpassed the cap, with Christian Horner even claiming it is defamatory for other teams to make statements on the matter.
The FIA are still investigating the matter and many are curious to see how they will respond to any breach of the rules, given that it will set the precedent for potential other issues. If Hamilton is consequently crowned champion then Verstappen and co will certainly protest the ruling, though the Englishman isn’t even listening to the ‘whispers’.
Asked about the ongoing saga that could see him benefit more than most, Hamilton said: “I’ve not really given it much attention, to be honest. It’s all whispers at the moment. I don’t know enough about it to be able to make a sensible comment.
READ MORE: FIA announce Mercedes penalty as Lewis Hamilton summoned to stewards
“I’m not thinking particularly anything. I’m proud of my team for the diligence that they’ve done to run to the rules. I honestly have full confidence in Mohammed [Ben Sulayem, FIA president], in the way that he’s conducted himself to this point, in terms of being strict and being clear with the rules.
“The rules are rules. And for those sorts of things which can lead to real alterations in terms of car performance, we definitely have to take it seriously. I don’t know if it’s true or not. We’ll see.”
Initial reports suggested that Red Bull overspent by £4.5m, which under current rules would be considered a ‘minor violation’ and likely result in a fine. However, according to Auto Motor und Sport, some F1 paddock insiders believe they could’ve gone over by over double that. It remains to be seen if Red Bull will be found guilty and punished but if they are deemed to have broken rules by a £10m overspent, it could be considered a “material overspend” which could result in the FIA issuing various sanctions, including the reduction of Drivers’ Championship and Constructors’ Championship points.
It has been said that if Red Bull’s spending did surpass the cap then the result of that will be seen for the coming seasons rather than purely in Verstappen’s last-gasp title win. However, the Dutchman has been in flying form this season and could lift the Drivers’ Championship as early as this weekend if results go his way at the Singapore Grand Prix.
He will start the race in P8, having missed out on pole position after he was told to abort his penultimate lap of qualifying. Verstappen has also spoken out on whether his team complied with the rules in 2021, saying: “Other teams started to talk about it when they had no information. I find that a bit silly. Just keep your mouths shut.”