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FIA ‘make Lewis Hamilton title decision’ as Red Bull investigation details emerge

The FIA are set to decide against handing Lewis Hamilton last year’s world title with claims of Red Bull significantly breaching the spending cap believed to be wide of the mark. Christian Horner and his Mercedes counterpart, Toto Wolff, traded blows at the weekend with an investigation ongoing into the financial aspects of Max Verstappen’s maiden Drivers’ Championship.

Verstappen pipped Hamilton to the world title in dramatic circumstances last season, passing him on the final lap of the final race in Abu Dhabi. The legitimacy of the triumph has recently been called into question, however, amid claims that Red Bull breached the £114million spending cap by up to £10m.

The spending cap was introduced last season to make F1 more financially sustainable and prevent wealthier teams from blowing their competition out of the water. A significant breach could see a range of punishments dished out, including the deduction of points which could see Hamilton handed the 2021 world title after all.

But The Daily Mail claim that the FIA’s investigation is set to conclude that Red Bull’s breach was only minor, with sources suggesting that they went as little as £1m over the limit.
Red Bull boss Horner has staunchly defended his team and insisted that they stayed below the £114m cut-off. His feud with Wolff subsided this season with Verstappen away and clear of Hamilton, but the Mercedes chief took his opportunity to fire shots in Singapore.

“It’s funny Christian says that because it’s been weeks and months they’re being investigated, so maybe he doesn’t speak to his CFO,” he told Sky Sports. “As a matter of fact, all of us have been investigated diligently.
“As far as we understand, there’s a team in minor breach, which is more procedural, and another team that is fundamentally massively over and that is still being looked after. So that’s an open secret in the paddock.
“I don’t know how many tens of millions we had to restructure and reprocess in order to be below the cap. And if someone has been not doing that, or pushing the boundaries, every million [you don’t spend] is a massive disadvantage.”

Verstappen missed his opportunity to mathematically seal his second world title on Sunday. The Dutchman could have sealed back-to-back crowns with a win and the fastest lap, providing Charles Leclerc finished eighth or below and his team-mate, Sergio Perez, finished fourth or below.

But Verstappen endured a tough evening in Singapore as Perez clinched his second win of the season in demanding circumstances. Leclerc finished second to keep an ounce of pressure on the Championship leader, but a 104-point buffer means it could be sealed in Japan this weekend.

Hamilton, meanwhile, had to settle for P9 after a tough few days for Mercedes, with George Russell finishing out of the points in 14th. The Silver Arrows duo are in a fight to finish best of the rest, having failed to win a Grand Prix between them all season.

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