Christian Horner isn't happy with the reports that claim Red Bull were over the spending budget last season, and has called out Toto Wolff for his comments, claiming the Formula One title leaders are ready to take legal action.
Horner's Red Bull and Wolff's Mercedes teams were involved in an extremely tense and dramatic rivalry for the drivers' and constructors' titles last year.
The battles ended in huge controversy in the final race of the season, with Max Verstappen taking the drivers' title from Lewis Hamilton, his first world championship.
Mercedes still managed to top the constructors table for the eighth year in-a-row, the first time since 2008 that the drivers' world champion didn't come from the winning team.
The controversy hasn't ended there however, with fans of the German team, and Hamilton, still calling for the decision to be overturned, even as recently as Verstappen's win at Monza, in the Italian Grand Prix, last month.
"Funny that Christian says that because it's been weeks and months they are being investigated"— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) September 30, 2022
Toto Wolff has his say on the 2021 Formula One budget cap. pic.twitter.com/OX82UJd68P
Verstappen's first title is now under threat due to claims that Red Bull broke the budget cap, that was brought in last season, with reports of a 'material' breach.
The findings from the FIA aren't due out until Wednesday but the reports have been going around the paddock at the Singapore Grand Prix this week.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was asked about the accusations, and Horner denying them, saying, "I find it funny that Christian says [Red Bull are below the cap] because it’s been weeks and months they are being investigated, so maybe he doesn’t speak to his CFO."
Now Horner has hit back and threatened legal action against the Austrian, saying his comments about a 'confidential' process were 'bang out of order.'
"We don’t even know if we’ve breached the cap yet," the Red Bull boss said.
"The process is still ongoing as the FIA said very clearly in a statement last night. They don’t complete the process until next week.
"We take umbrage [at Wolff’s comments]. We believe we are fully compliant. And anyway how on earth do they have this knowledge?
"Unless there is a clear withdrawal we will take extremely seriously all [legal] options available to us. They are bang out of order."
Verstappen could even win his second world title as early as this weekend, in far less controversial circumstances, with five races still to go.
The Red Bull lead questioned the timing of the rumours. "People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones," Horner said whilst accusing Wolff of trying to mask his team's poor performance this year.
"Is it any coincidence that Max [Verstappen] has his first shot [at winning this year’s drivers’ championship] this weekend?"
It's probably less to do with Verstappen potentially claiming his second title at just 25-years-old and more to do with the fact the reports are out on Wednesday.
If the team are found guilty of a 'material' breach then punishment could be as harsh as them being expelled from last season's championship, which would make Hamilton an eight time champion, breaking the record.
Two teams are accused of breaches, with the reports claiming that Aston Martin are the other, but their breach is expected to be 'minor.'
Featured Image Credit: F1/Alamy
- Red Bull Racing reportedly only in 'minor breach' of budget cap, denying Lewis Hamilton chance of being handed 2021 F1 title
- FIA confirm Red Bull have 'minor overspend breach' of budget cap
- Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said teams will 'always spend 10% more' than budget
- Red Bull accused of spending breach during Max Verstappen world title winning season