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Hamilton calls for tough penalties ‘to protect F1’s integrity’

Lewis Hamilton has joined fellow drivers and teams in calling for a strict penalty for breaches of Formula One’s cost cap and warned that a “slap on the wrist” would not protect the sport’s integrity.

Asked about Red Bull’s infringement of the $145 million budget limit last year, as found and reported by the International Motoring Federation (FIA), the seven-time champion said late Thursday he backed the FIA and hoped the right decisions would be made.

Hamilton was thwarted in his bid to land a record eight drivers’ title when Max Verstappen of Red Bull passed him in controversial circumstances on the last lap of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Speaking dispassionately about the furore surrounding Red Bull, which has cast a cloud over this weekend’s 10th anniversary race celebrations at the Circuit of the Americas, Hamilton focused on the future.

“I do think this sport needs to do something about this in the future,” he said.

“If they are relaxed with these rules, all the teams will just go over (budget).

“Spending millions more and only having a slap on the wrist is obviously not going to be great for the sport, they might as well not have a cost cap in the future.”

The results of the FIA’s financial regulatory audits were issued after the Japanese Grand Prix this month, with Red Bull failing to obtain a certificate of compliance. No details of their reported “minor” breach were given.

Hamilton said he hoped for the “right” outcome as the FIA consider their position and what punishment to hand out to Red Bull.

“There is nothing I can say that will be beneficial,” said Hamilton. “it is all an assumption of what may or may not happen. So, I’m not giving it any energy.

“I am just focused on trying to gee up the team, trying to turn this car around and working on things that I can generally control.

“(As to) the integrity of the sport… I do believe Mohammed (Ben Sulayem, the FIA president) and his team will make the right decisions. I have to believe that.

“I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, naturally.”

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