Mercedes chief contradicts Christian Horner performance claims

F1 preview: A lap at the Mexican Grand Prix

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Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has disagreed with Christian Horner’s claim that the team’s budget cap overspending did not lead to extra car performance. Shovlin claims “money buys performance” and suggested Red Bull could have used the money to fund a “major update kit” in a blow to Lewis Hamilton.

Speaking in a press conference, Shovlin said: “There are lots of numbers like the £1.8 million and numbers that you’re quoting. From an engineer’s point of view, day in day out where we’re making decisions of what we don’t do, that are of the orders of £1 to £3,000.

“That’s a normal part of our jobs, and we’re having to weigh up what we spend versus what performance it’s going to give us and, you know, we simply don’t have enough money. You’ve got to choose where it goes very carefully. So it’s very difficult to put a lap time on it, but the reality is that money buys performance.

“In terms of the cost of an update kit that could easily be a major update kit.”

Red Bull were found guilty of breaching the budget cap by £1.8million ($2.2mil). But, the FIA has confirmed the overspend would be just £432,000 ($0.5mil) if Red Bull had processed their taxes correctly.

Their penalty for breaking the rules was a 10 per cent reduction in wind tunnel and CFD development next season. The FIA has also slapped the team with a hefty £6.4million ($7mil) fine.

However, Horner hit back at the punishment as a “draconian” measure ahead of the weekend. He also reiterated the team had gained no performance advantage from breaking the cap.

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The FIA found the team had breached the cap in 13 areas including catering and apprenticeship fees. Horner explained: “Not one penny was spent on the performance of the car and I’m astounded that there were no other teams that have found themselves in this position, but good for them that eight of them were fully compliant.

“I think as I say there’s lessons to learn. Did we see any on-track performance? No, we didn’t. Are there things that we could do better from an accounting perspective? Of course, there are lessons that have been learned. But not just on our side, I think on all sides.”

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