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Red Bull considers action over F1 rivals' "defamatory" cost cap claims

Red Bull said it will consider taking action against rival Formula 1 teams if they do not withdraw what it considers to be "defamatory" and "unacceptable" comments.

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

Red Bull Content Pool

Ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, Red Bull had found itself at the centre of intrigue over potential breaches of the F1 cost cap rules last year.

Some F1 teams have both been open about there being no secret in the paddock that two squads have been found to have spent more than last year’s circa $145 million limit. 

This comes ahead of the FIA issuing compliance certificates next Wednesday to those teams that were under the limit.

But although comments from Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff and Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies spoke about the situation in general terms, rather than specifically singling out Red Bull, their remarks have not gone down well at their Milton Keynes-based rival.

Speaking in Singapore on Saturday morning, an angry Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said that his squad had taken a dim view of the remarks made and was ready to consider options if Mercedes and Ferrari did not back track.

“Unless there is a clear withdrawal of those statements, we will be taking it incredibly seriously and looking at what the options available to us are,” said Horner.

“It is absolutely unacceptable to be making comments of the type that were made yesterday, that are totally defamatory to the team, to the brands, and even to Formula 1."

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: Lionel Ng / Motorsport Images

Horner explained that he was especially baffled about where rivals had got their information from about potential rule breaches, when even Red Bull did not know yet if there was a problem.

“It is a private submission between the team and the FIA,” said Horner. “So how on earth can any team know the detail of our submission? How on earth can any team know that a team is in breach or not? 

"We don't even know if we're in breach. We don't even know until next week, until the process has been completed.”

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Horner reckoned that rivals were even being "underhand" in using the cost cap situation to throw dirt at Red Bull on the same weekend that Max Verstappen could clinch his second world title.

He added: “Perhaps, when these accusations are made, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. And we take umbrage, and extremely seriously, the remarks that have been made.

“Is it any coincidence that Max has his first shot at winning a world title, and here we are talking nothing but cost caps rather than the phenomenal performance that he has had this year.

“I think it's an underhand tactic that's been employed to detract from perhaps a lack of performance on track this year. And of course, when references are made to last year, this year, next year, we're going to take that extremely seriously.

“This is an issue for the FIA to deal with, but also an issue for Red Bull to consider what our position is with those comments that have been made.”

Horner stands by his claim that he believes Red Bull is under the $145 million limit, even though the investigation process remains ongoing.

“We made the submission in March, we stand absolutely 100% behind that submission that we are below the cap. 

"Of course, that submission has to be signed off by our auditors and obviously, ours is one of the big three. And then it goes through a process with the FIA.

“We're a little bit like an audit where there are questions and interpretations that are raised and discussed. That process is ongoing with the FIA, who haven't obviously completed their process at this point in time. I think they made that clear in a statement they put out yesterday evening.

“So we await with interest to see the final outcome of that process, which hopefully is in the near future, but we remain absolutely confident that we've absolutely complied with the cap.”

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