Lewis Hamilton has asked the FIA to come down hard on teams that are found to have breached the budget cap in 2021. The Mercedes driver, who lost the championship to Max Verstappen at the season finale, specifically pointed to Red Bull Racing and their ability to bring upgrades well into the latter part of last season.

As it stands, two teams are rumoured to have fallen foul of the cost cap with Red Bull expected to be one of the teams alongside Aston Martin. Christian Horner remains certain that his team was well within the budget last season, but the final verdict has yet to come out.

The FIA was expected to release certificates to teams that respected the regulations on Wednesday, but have pushed it to Monday until after the Japanese Grand Prix. Hamilton feels the delay is because they are still investigating and deciding the potential penalties for the defaulters.

"I think it's imperative, honestly, just for transparency," Hamilton said, as quoted by the Guardian. "We need to continue to have transparency for the fans, for the integrity of the sport."

Christian Horner
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP

"I trust that Mohammed [ben Sulayem, the FIA president] is taking it seriously and will do what is right for the sport."

The seven-time world champion feels even the slightest breach of the budget cap can change the outcome of the title battle. In 2021, it was a championship of small margins with Hamilton and Verstappen going into the final race level on points, and the former feels Red Bull's ability to continue developing the car surely gave them an upper hand.

"What I can say is I remember last year in Silverstone we had our last upgrade and fortunately it was great and we could fight with it," the British racer said.

"But then we would see Red Bull every weekend or every other weekend bringing upgrades. They had, I think, at least four more upgrades from that point," he added. "If we spent £300,000 on a new floor, or adapted a wing, it would have changed the outcome of the championship."

The FIA has a number of penalties at their disposal for teams that have breached the cost cap. It could be a simple financial penalty or reduced aerodynamic testing time. But, the governing body also has the option to deduct points from teams and drivers, or completely exclude them from the championship.

Lewis Hamilton
British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton was named as an investor in the new ownership group of the NFL's Denver Broncos AFP / CHRISTOPHE SIMON