Lewis Hamilton: Red Bull 'Only getting a slap on the wrist' not great for F1

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has told Formula One's governing body FIA that Red Bull must not escape breaking the financial rules with only "a slap on the wrist".

The build-up to this weekend's United States Grand Prix - the first race since Max Verstappen claimed his second world championship in Japan a fortnight ago - has been dominated by what sanction Red Bull will be dealt for exceeding last year's £114million budget cap.

Although the FIA is yet to release details by how much Red Bull overspent when they carried Verstappen to a deeply controversial championship win over Hamilton in 2021, it is understood the figure is £1.8m.

The punishments available to the FIA range from a reprimand, to a fine, to a deduction of drivers' championship points.

The use of the latter would have an impact on last season's result. Hamilton was denied a record eighth world crown by Verstappen at the season finale in Abu Dhabi. However, is not expected that last year's championship will be reversed.

But speaking in Austin, Hamilton, 37, said: "I do believe the sport has to do something about this because if the FIA are quite relaxed with these rules then all the teams will just go over [the budget] and spend millions more.

"Only getting a slap on the wrist is not great for the sport. They might as well not have a cost cap in future.

"I do believe [FIA president] Mohammed [Ben Sulayem] and his team will make the right decisions. I have to believe that. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt.

"I am just focused on doing the best job I can, and what they have done is done. I am looking forward, and looking at how I can win another world championship."

It is understood Red Bull have been offered a punishment by the FIA, with both financial and sporting sanctions believed to be on the table. Team principal Christian Horner is expected to address the media here on Friday morning.

Red Bull could enter an Accepted Breach Agreement with the governing body where it must declare it exceeded the cost cap and will lose any right to an appeal. A penalty would then be applied.

Such a deal would also erase the prospect of championship points being deducted and ensure Verstappen's maiden title stands.

However, Red Bull are also able to challenge the FIA's decision. Their case would then be heard by a panel of independent judges. A final option available to Red Bull would be the FIA's International Court of Appeal, but both steps would see the team risk a harsher punishment.

Verstappen, who claimed his second title in Suzuka with four races remaining, said: "From our side we have a strong belief that we were within the cost cap so that is why it keeps on going. We are discussing with the FIA to show them what we think is right.

"We have been doing well and they try to slow us down in any way possible, but that is how F1 works. Everyone is hypocritical and I am fine with that."

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