Max Verstappen still can't shake off the controversy surrounding his maiden F1 World Championship title which he won in 2021. It has now been revealed that apart from Lewis Hamilton fans and those connected to the Mercedes F1 team, even McLaren team principal Zak Brown thinks that Red Bull racing "cheated" in 2021 and should be severely punished.

In not so many words, Brown implied that Verstappen's world championship win needs to be reconsidered. In a leaked letter to the FIA, he said that the Austrian team needs to receive punishment from a sporting point of view due to the fact that they breached the budget cap in 2021.

After being delayed by several months, the FIA finally released the results of their audit on teams' spending in 2021 and found Red Bull to be guilty of going over the the £114million budget cap. However, they have thus far refused to hand down an appropriate punishment, and many believe they will only impose a fine, therefore allowing Verstappen to keep his championship crown.

The Sun shared excerpts from Brown's letter to the FIA dated October 12. He addressed FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem directly, saying: "The overspend breach, and possibly the procedural breaches, constitute cheating by offering a significant advantage across technical, sporting and financial regulations."

Max Verstappen (front, centre) and the entire Red Bull pit crew and team celebrate winning back-to-back world championships at Suzuka
Max Verstappen (front, centre) and the entire Red Bull pit crew and team celebrate winning back-to-back world championships at Suzuka AFP News

He went on to say that there is no reason for any confusion about what should be included in the budget because all teams were allowed to clarify matters back in 2020, which he called a "dress rehearsal."

Brown echoed the words of Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto, who said that any financial advantage gave Red Bull an unfair advantage in terms of future car development.

"We don't feel a financial penalty alone would be a suitable penalty for an overspend breach or a serious procedural breach," he added, pointing out that a "sporting penalty" is more appropriate.

He also suggested that Red Bull should be given a reduced budget for the following season. In addition, he also believes that "the penalty should be equal to the overspend plus a further fine." Brown also added other suggestions such as reduction in wind tunnel time among others.

The FIA has not clarified the penalties until now, causing a lot of turmoil on the grid. Verstappen has since won his second world title, with Red Bull on course to snatch the Constructors' Championship away from Mercedes.

Zak Brown
McLaren boss Zak Brown AFP / Peter PARKS