Helmut Marko makes 'complete nonsense' comment as FIA weigh up Red Bull punishment

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Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has vehemently denied rumours that Max Verstappen could be stripped of last year’s Drivers’ Championship title as a result of the team’s ongoing budget cap scandal. The Austrian outfit were found to have broken the limit in 2021 when the results of an FIA investigation into the financial data of all teams was released on Monday, although the extent of their punishment is yet to be decided upon by the powers that be.

The range of penalties available to the FIA means that Max Verstappen could theoretically be stripped of the end-of-season honours, with points deductions for the year in question among the options on the table. However, Marko is adamant that the Dutchman will get to keep his maiden title when Red Bull’s punishment is eventually confirmed at some point over the next 14 days.

“As I said, we are still not aware of any guilt, which is why discussions with the FIA are still ongoing,” Marko told F1-Insider.com.

“But rumours that Max could lose his world title in 2021, for example, are complete nonsense. The past has shown that even extreme violations of the regulations were punished very mildly by the FIA.”

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Marko was seemingly referring to at least two prior incidents that were met with a lenient response from the FIA, who are widely expected to fine Red Bull but avoid docking points in spite of their budget cap breach. Mercedes were banned from taking part in a young driver test back in 2013 after conducting a secret tyre test a week before that year’s Monaco Grand Prix despite a number of rival teams urging the FIA to punish them harshly.

The second incident, which happened in 2019, involved Ferrari’s use of an illegal power unit that was confirmed as having been against the rules by the FIA. However, the governing body only responded by ordering Ferrari to actively participate in the development of synthetic fuel rather than issuing any severe penalties.

Mercedes and Ferrari have since led calls for the FIA to come down hard on Red Bull after their budget cap breach was revealed earlier this week, although the designation of their spending as a minor offence means that any crippling punishments are likely to be overlooked. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has already insisted that Red Bull would have reaped the rewards of their excessive financial outlay last year, with every pound spent over the limit able to make a significant difference in terms of on-track performance.

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“If you’re spending five million more, and you’re still in the minor breach, it still has a big impact on the championship,” said Wolff.

“To give you an idea, we obviously monitor closely which parts are being brought to the track from the top teams every single race for the 2021 season and the 2022 season. We can see that there are two top teams that are just about the same and there is another team that spends more.

“We know exactly that we’re spending three and a half million a year in parts that we bring to the car. So then you can see what difference it makes to spend another $500,000 [£451,467]. It would be a difference.”

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