Hamilton: F1 ‘might as well not have a cost cap if the penalty is a slap on the wrist’

2022 United States Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton has urged the FIA to ensure its Financial Regulations are obeyed by enforcing them strictly, after it announced Red Bull breached them last year.

The sport’s governing body confirmed last week Red Bull had exceeded the $145 million spending limit and committed a “procedural” breach of the rules. The FIA could hand down penalties including fines, confiscation of points and a reduction in Red Bull’s aerodynamic testing and future spending limit.

Hamilton, who narrowly lost the drivers’ championship to Red Bull driver Max Verstappen in 2021, isn’t dwelling on the possibility last year’s standings could be altered.

“I’ve heard the things that have been said [but] I’m generally looking how I can win another championship,” he said. “I have my own opinions of what we did as a team and how we did it last year and I’m really proud of that and believe in what we earned. It doesn’t really change a huge amount.”

However he said the FIA needs to set an example which ensures teams stick to the spending limit. “I do think the sport needs to do something about this in the future,” he said. “Otherwise, if they’re relaxed with these rules, then all the teams will just go over and spend millions more.

“In the end if it’s a slap on the wrist it’s obviously not really great for the sport. They might as well not have a cost cap in future.”

Hamilton says the “integrity” of F1 is at stake but he has confident FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem will handle the controversy correctly.

“I do believe that Mohammed and his team will make the right decisions,” he said. “I have to believe that. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, naturally. Otherwise I’m just focused on doing the best job I can.”

“I’m not giving it any energy,” he added. “I’m focussed on really continuing to try and gee up the team, really trying to turn this car around and working on things that I can generally control.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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63 comments on “Hamilton: F1 ‘might as well not have a cost cap if the penalty is a slap on the wrist’”

  1. Was there not a ban on wearing clothes without statements? I guess that was for all except his majesty.
    Have there not been rules against wearing jewelry? Except for his majesty of course. Flouted these rules for years. Just the first two things that come to mind. I am sure there are a lot more between his close mate, aka Toto, and the team. Just like all, take it to the limit and see what happens.

    1. Get yourself together man, you aren’t making any sense.

    2. Completely agree, Hamilton is such a horrible human for wearing a T-shirt supporting the friends and family of someone murdered by the police. Using his platform to highlight serious wrong doing is despicable. How dare he?! Doesn’t he know that might offend fragile people!

      Same with that nose ring! It’s not good enough that he removed it for 3 weeks before it became infected! What kind of excuse is that. Why doesn’t he just race without a nose?

      1. No body said the message was wrong, just that the rule said no clothes with statements. Hamilton broke the rule, regardless of the message. I don’t believe the rule was “no statements, unless you feel like it”

        1. Plenty people said the message was wrong. And they were right.

        2. No body said the message was wrong, just that the rule said no clothes with statements.

          I’m pretty sure that rule was introduced in response to his t-shirt protest on the podium, so he didn’t actually break any law there.

          1. No the rule existed for several years..

      2. Sure, these examples are small indiscretions, but the point is the contradiction in his statement,
        Basically, apply the rules to others or there is no point having the rule, but please don’t apply the rules to me.
        This is a case of size doesn’t matter, the principal is identical.

    3. Here, here. The sooner he retires from F1 the better!

    4. So you entirely agree with his point seeing as you can find no flaw in it?

    5. Your insight is amazing. You’re comparing jewellery and fashion statements to the a core break of the rules. Hats off to you man.

      1. You get to define which rules matter and which rules are real rules and which rules should be applied, you are the one qualified to determine if jewellery is a safety concern, who am I to argue with your determination of what a real rule is.
        I guess all of this is pointless as obviously you and Lewis get to decide which rules should be adhered to.

    6. Cognitive dissonance at its absolute finest! Oh no, Lewis said something sensible! I’d better attack him and pretend I don’t agree…

  2. Lewis, please shut up. You are so totally self biased and self righteous it is becoming boring.

    1. I’ll take it you agree with what he said as you can’t seem to find fault with it.

    2. @malrg So when he’s interviewed, he’s not supposed to answer any of the questions?

      1. Sorry. let me rephrase. Media please stop interviewing Lewis, he is becoming boring.

  3. RB should hire Shaila-Ann Rao, I would love to see Merc’s reaction to that.

    1. Hahahaha, good one

  4. He’s not wrong

    1. No he’s not wrong, but if the cost cap rule says there is wiggle room for 5%, then that’s within the rules. He doesn’t get to decide how the rule that they all agreed to get applied depending on who they are being applied to. In fact, he doesn’t get to decide anything other than how he drives the car.

      1. It doesn’t say there’s wiggle room for 5%. An overspend by up to 5% still carries penalties.

      2. There is no wiggle room. 5% and below is considered a minor breach. It’s still cheating.

  5. None of the rules are enforced the same way twice. It’s not surprising they are going to let Red Bull get away with this. What’s the point of any of the rules whether it’s white lines or Verstappen brake testing Hamilton last year? They honestly seem more worried about Hamilton’s jewelry than breaking the cost cap.

    1. Brake testing? and you are more worried about that than Hamilton near killing Verstappen at Silverstone? Clearly your views and opinions are balanced and unbiased…
      And would a Doctor please explain to me how putting a piece of metal back into a hole will stop infection…

      1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        21st October 2022, 11:03

        Review stewards’ decisions. They are not about what happens after any coming together, that is the consequences and are not taken into account.

      2. How is this even a comparison, Explain how having jewellery in his nose is cheating??… If you have more money to spend than everyone else does, you have an unfair advantage and are cheating.

    2. Max never breaktested Lewis he just had to let Lewis pass and because Lewis didn’t wanted to do that (very strange) Max helped him.

      1. He had a car right behind him and he slammed the anchors on. No matter the reasons, that’s pretty much the definition of brake testing. In any karting venue I’ve been to, that would have been instant disqualification and probably a ban.

  6. Ah good. This article is exactly what we needed.

    How’s the enforcement of the no jewellery rule going? I’m sure Hamilton has complete faith in his new best friend Mohammed taking care of it appropriately, as per the rules.
    I mean – as the rule is in place, it needs to be enforced properly, right?

  7. HAM will pay more in fines for the jewelry than Res Bull will for the breach.

    1. Apparently he could now sign an ABA and keep the jewelery.


      1. Seems to be what he’s already done

  8. What about that jewelry Lewis? Not his biggest fan at all but he’s right on this one.

    Penalties should always be more punishing than the advantage gained in the infraction. If it’s just a slap on the wrist, Ferrari and Mercedes just are going to open up their wallets again in a free for all if RB comes off lightly.

    The penalty given also can have long lasting effects for any new constructor like Audi coming in. Audi came in because of the promise of a cost cap. Would they still commit if it was “pay to win” again or withdraw their submission due to breach of the FIA not coming down hard enough on overspenders?

    F1 should’ve learned its lesson about a cost cap that did not come less then a decade ago. It be like the early 2010’s again where Lotus, Virgin and HRT were promised a cap yet all of them were gone in 5 years.

  9. Hamilton: F1 ‘might as well not have a cost cap if the penalty is a slap on the wrist’

    Yeah, but if you use a machete…

    1. Lol. Thanks for that

  10. Havent the penalties decided already for minor breaches then why this hullabaloo all of a sudden of what the punishment should be.

    1. Exactly this. Nobody seems to understand that ALL teams agreed not only on the rules of the cost cap, but also what the penalty’s should be. Now everyone’s moaning because they suddenly want to change these agreements…

  11. Ok, luckily we can put this to bed and go racing which was totally predictable given spygate, test gate and oil gate. Well, almost to bed.. after some have had the chance to shout and cry a bit more.

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      21st October 2022, 11:05

      More whataboutism from years ago.

      1. Some whataboutism yet to be investigated is the ties Mercedes seems to have into FIA though.., granting them access to private information. Some team bosses are now questioning Mercedes 8 year WCC streak. It might be tainted since it could have been done under a competitive advantage given these ties. Information is just as powerful as oil flow or an overspend situation. Just like the informational advantage from tyre tests. O, sorry I am going into whataboutism from years ago again. Let’s focus on the investigation into the relation between Mercedes and FIA which now really needs to take place in order for Mercedes and FIA to hold any credibility over what they are doing in the sport.

        1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
          21st October 2022, 11:35

          Some team bosses are now questioning Mercedes 8 year WCC streak.

          Which ones are they and a source for us to read?

          I am not against any investigation into anything and any wrongdoing punished.

          Binotto was there for the 2019 engine saga and has actually made it clear that they found a loophole and had the engine actually been illegal they would of been disqualified.

        2. granting them access to private information

          What is this nonsense? The leaks could just have easily come from inside Redbull as the FIA.

          1. That would not make sense as nobody inside the FIA or RBR has a motive to leak information if they have the organizations goal in mind.

            Which leaves either a hack, bribe or mole as the only options. All way scarier than incompetence (multiple worldclass accounting firms work on these statements, so unlikely).

      2. Itsmeagain (@)
        21st October 2022, 11:42

        Can you explain how MB knew about the technical directive about the floor. The rule wasn’t communicated by the FIA but MB had already a solution. This is no whataboutisme, but looking at the bigger picture. Where the media framing of Toto seems to work fine with the fans here. Maybe the breach has everything to do with the safety of the RB drivers. (Just like the BS Toto want us to believe when their hobbling car)

        1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
          21st October 2022, 12:37

          If you mean how could MB make a new floor stay in a few hours then you clearly have no appreciation for the ingenuity or skill of F1 engineers. Any of the teams could of made them but because it was only MB the other teams made all sorts of noises.

          1. That’s a thin line in my opinion. It seems they somehow new exactly what was coming. Again, the ties between Mercedes and FIA need an investigation. It has the strong appearance of not being coincidental to an extent that is worth checking out.

        2. Can you explain how MB knew about the technical directive about the floor. The rule wasn’t communicated by the FIA but MB had already a solution.

          The stay was literally a duplication of an existing part that they probably had spares of. Also, all teams are have been using modular floors this year to allow them to bring small segmented and cheap updates without needing entirely new floors – Any of the teams could have rolled the stay out for practice if they felt it had helped.

  12. They should just adopt a cost cap similar to how the NBA has a salary cap. You can go over the limit, but you pay a “luxury tax”, equal to how much you overspent. Thats year 1. If next year you go over it again, you pay 1.5x the amount you exceeded the cap. Then 2x, 2.5x, 3x. It resets to 1.5x if you dont overspend 1 year, 1x if you dont overspend 2 years in a row.
    Now, all the money that adds up this way in a year gets distributed between the teams that didnt exceed the cap.
    In essence, the rich teams would spend as much as they like and also pay to keep the smaller teams financially healthy.

    1. Yeah.. it makes sense, although F1 is a bit of a different beast, as development advantages in one season can carry on to the next. I think the penalty multiplier needs to be higher .. and also result in lesser CFD, wind tunnel time, etc.

      Honestly, this whole post rule break situation is just ridiculous. It was almost a guarantee that some team would break the cost cap within the first two years of its implementation, yet, the FIA and F1 didn’t decide to write a penalty down before they added the cost cap. Why have such ad hoc and subjective decisions?? It needs to be black and white in terms of the penalty and the consequence. F1 might have been around for ages, but they still operate like a bunch of amateurs.

  13. If the rules are enforced strictly and to the letter, then it’s a minor breach. So why the big fuss?

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      21st October 2022, 11:08

      There is a list of penalties that can be applied not just a single penalty depending on the actual amount of overspend.

      If ORBR accept the ABA from the FIA the one penalty that most want to happen, a reduction in the cost cap, is removed as a penalty.

  14. “I do believe that Mohammed and his team will make the right decisions,” he said. “I have to believe that. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, naturally.”

    These sentences sum it all up for me. “I Believe”, “I have to believe”, “I want to give him the benefit of the doubt”. As the sentiment progresses, Hamilton acknowledges that he really wants to think Mohammed Ben Sulayem and his team will make the right decisions but he tempers that with the implied knowledge that his natural reaction is that they won’t, or can’t.

    This is all viewed through a lens of what Hamilton thinks is the right decision, but as he is well versed and good at PR, we are unlikely to know the context of his doubt, as he simply won’t say so in public until after the fact.

    1. @marvinthemartian Hamilton has now hinted at what he considers “the right decision” and that he “believes” the FIA will make said decision.

      There are now only three possible outcomes; the FIA does what Hamilton considers right (i.e. what he wants), the FIA does not, or Hamilton’s view of what is right is wrong and whatever the FIA does is actually right.

      Hamilton and Wolff play the political game well, but they’re not subtle about it. This has all the marks of Mercedes setting their (considerable) fan base up for a very loud and public “the FIA made the wrong decision because ” outcry. And this time, they may not even be wrong.

      1. You do realise a person can have a perfectly valid & subjective opinion of what they deem is ‘right’, ‘just’ and ‘correct’ and they are welcome to assume that the body that operates the sport will align with them, because in their belief they are right, just as much as RBR were set in their belief that the FIA would not find them in violation of the cost cap, right up until the point that they did…

        1. @optimaximal Absolutely. In this case? No. Hamilton is not some rookie hoping/thinking/believing the officials agree with him on an inconsequential matter. Hamilton and Mercedes are quite skilled at playing this game. He has, even before the report was published, singled out the FIA president (going right to the top), saying as reported here: “I honestly have full confidence in Mohammed [Ben Sulayem] in the way that he’s conducted himself to this point and in terms of being strict and being clear with the rules.” Today, he adds: “I do believe that Mohammed and his team will make the right decisions.” He puts further pressure on him by proclaiming: “I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, naturally.” But hold on; what doubt is he talking about? And from what position is Hamilton, or anyone else for that matter, giving the FIA president that benefit?

          The report on the F1 budgets is now referred to the Cost Cap Adjudication Panel, which, as the regulations outline, is ‘a panel of independent judges’. They alone will decide what is to be done about the breaches. Their decisions may be appealed, but only to the FIA’s own International Court of Appeal (ICA), which is likewise ‘an independent body’. So the person Hamilton has now put on the spot – twice – has no formal role in this. Despite this, Hamilton is trying to tie the outcome of this case to the FIA president’s leadership and his program of being, as Hamilton puts it, ‘strict and clear with the rules’. It’s impossible to know, of course, but I suspect Hamilton knows full well that Mr. Ben Sulayem is neither on the CCAP nor on the ICA.

  15. Put Albon in th cost cap simulator to prove it was somebody else’s fault.

    1. Haha, yes the lengths RBR went to, pity they didn’t spent put as much effort on cost controls.

  16. Said someone who got special lee way to break the rule and from a driver of the team that get special tyre test.

    I hope RaceFans republish Dieter article about the detail why Red Bull cost differ $5.9 million than FIA audit. So this Austin build up gossip can be more technical.

  17. He sounds frustrated that he had to compete for a title with a car that could match his and got beaten.

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      21st October 2022, 11:10

      Even when the stewards made a determination that the rules as they were weren’t followed.

  18. Matthew 7:3

  19. Even the “OFFICIALS” at F1 say it is only a “Minor Breach.” Lewis can’t have it both ways. At the 2021 Brit GP Lewis spun out Max, and the repair cost to Red Bull were over $1,000,000. Lewis and the other teams were all ok with that one!
    Even in years past, Mercedes reportedly out spent everyone else on engine development. Again Lewis and Toto said nothing.

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