Christian Horner has suggested Red Bull could take legal action against Mercedes and Ferrari regarding comments made about potential budget cap breaches.
Paddock sources have confirmed to RACER that two teams are understood to have breached the budget cap in their 2021 submissions to the FIA, with Red Bull and Aston Martin named as those two teams.
However, the extent of any breach remains unknown, and after Toto Wolff spoke directly about Horner on Friday in relation to the alleged breaches — as well as Ferrari’s Laurent Mekies stating the breaches are “something very serious” — the Red Bull team principal was angered by the comments.
“We were a little bit taken aback by comments that were coming from two of our rival teams yesterday,” Horner said. “The submission between the team and the FIA is one that is confidential.
“I have no idea what the outcome of our rivals’ submissions are, or the accounting treatment or so on. So I would be intrigued to know where their source of information for these fictitious claims have come from. They are hugely defamatory and we take umbrage to them.
“One can only assume it’s not coincidental that this is at a point where Max has his first strike at a world championship. How on earth do they have this information? Where do they have this knowledge? The FIA have even stated they haven’t even completed their process.
“So unless there is a clear withdrawal of those statements, we will be taking it incredibly seriously and looking at what the options available to us are, because it is absolutely unacceptable to be making comments of the type that were made yesterday, that is totally defamatory to the team, to the brands, and even to F1. I would be intrigued to know where their source of information has come from.
“It is of course a process and one that this administration of the FIA have inherited and they are looking to do the very best job they can do.
“ I just reiterate, what is totally unacceptable is for teams that are not party to any form of the submission, to be making claims about our submission, about prospective penalties — that is just bang out of order.”
Horner, who questioned a reporter’s impartiality when being asked about which specific comments he found to be defamatory, says it’s only when the FIA issues certificates of compliance on Wednesday that anyone will know if a team is in breach.
“The facts are such that the submission is made to the FIA and it is a private submission between the team and the FIA so how on earth can any team know the detail of our submission? How on earth can any team know if a team is in breach or not? We don’t even know if we’re in breach — we don’t even know until next week, until the process has been completed.
“So perhaps when these accusations are made, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones and we take umbrage and extremely seriously the remarks that have been made.
“Is it any coincidence that Max has his first shot at winning a world title and here we are talking nothing but cost caps, rather than the phenomenal performance that he has had this year? I think it’s an underhand tactic that’s been employed to detract from perhaps a lack of performance on track this year.
“And of course when references are made to last year, this year, next year, we’re going to take that extremely seriously. So this is an issue for the FIA to deal with but also an issue for Red Bull to consider what our position is with those comments that have been made.”