1997 Formula 1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve believes that Red Bull’s cost cap breach shouldn’t fall under the category of cheating.
Last month, the FIA confirmed that Red Bull had exceeded last year’s cap by £1.4 million, which would’ve dropped to less than half a million had a tax credit been properly applied.
The energy drink-owned outfit was issued a fine of $7m, while it will also have reduced aerodynamic testing in 2023.
The budget cap was used in F1 for the first time last year, with the limit set at $145m.
Despite the FIA issuing a penalty to Red Bull for the breach, Villeneuve says he is still unsure about the potential ramifications for the future.
“It was also, of course, about Cashgate in Mexico, although it won’t damage the sport,” he wrote in his column for formule1.nl.
“When McLaren got that mega fine of 100 million [in 2007], that didn’t happen either. The ruling and the penalty for Red Bull have not yet made it clear to me what is and is not allowed and what penalty you get for that.
“And then there was that tax setback, otherwise the excess would have been less than a million. So I find it hard to say whether the penalty is severe enough.”
A number of parties on the grid have suggested that the penalty Red Bull has been hit with isn’t severe enough.
But Villeneuve doesn’t think that the Milton Keynes-based squad should be labelled as cheaters.
“At least it’s not cheating,” he commented. “Lying about traction control, that’s cheating.
“Whether it [the cost cap breach] would have made any difference in the outcome this year, I doubt. Red Bull is so strong that they would have won anyway.
“What bothers me is that the FIA is now collecting seven million dollars. So it has hardly any effect for Red Bull and the other teams don’t get a penny from it.
“The ten per cent less time in the wind tunnel does hurt, that will slow them down. But it doesn’t gain the others lap time, some of the penalty money would help. Just divide that among the teams.”