Wolff: Red Bull's 'reputational damage' a deterrent for rivals breaking cost cap

Why Red Bull's cost cap punishment could prove to be very significant (2:21)

Nate Saunders speaks about the FIA's punishment for Red Bull and explains why reduced windtunnel testing is significant. (2:21)

MEXICO CITY -- Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff believes the reputational damage Red Bull sustained after breaching Formula One's cost cap last year is a big enough deterrent to stop teams doing the same in the future.

Red Bull was fined $7 million and had its aerodynamic testing allowance reduced by 10 percent for the next 12 months after it submitted accounts that were found to be 1.6 percent over the $145 million cap in 2021. The FIA issued the penalty on Friday, taking into account Red Bull's omission of a tax credit in its submission that would have reduced the overspend to 0.37 percent had it been accounted for.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner referred to the penalty as "draconian" but said his team "begrudgingly" accepted the sanction in the interests of drawing a line under the issue.

Wolff indicated that he believed the penalty was somewhat lenient but said the reputational damage suffered by Red Bull as a result of the breach would be enough to deter other teams intentionally breaching the cap to gain an advantage.

"I think what you see is that beyond the sporting penalty and the financial fine there's also a reputational damage and in a world of transparency and good governance that's just not on anymore," Wolff told Sky Sports. "And compliance-wise, in whatever team you are, you're responsible for representing a brand, your employees, your partners, and that's why for us it wouldn't be a business case."

F1's aerodynamic testing rules operate on a sliding scale, with the first-placed team getting the least capacity for the following six months and the last-placed team getting the most time. Wolff expects Red Bull to pay a price in performance as a result of the penalty, which will be added on top of the deficit in wind tunnel time Red Bull will already have as the reigning champions next year.

"Any reduction on wind tunnel time will have an impact in performance," he added. "We've been in the fortunate situation that we've won the championship so for 18 months we had 7% less than Red Bull for over one and a half year.

"Overall it all adds up and if you look at Ferrari at the moment, they were 6th the previous year and got massively more performance from the extra time they had. So, now we're unfortunately benefiting from being 3rd on the road, getting 14% more than the leader and now we have more 10%, so that is quite a lot. But you need to see where you utilize it."

Asked for his thoughts on the penalty process, Wolff added: "I think the most important thing for me is that there is a robust governance.

"They didn't budge an eyelid, they did just follow the process, how it went, Federico [Lodi, FIA head of financial regulations] and his team, Shaila Ann [Rao, FIA interim secretary general for sport] and Nikolas [Tombazis, single-seater technical head], I think they were absolutely good in assessing -- I know how rigorous they were with us, all throughout the year,

"That was a difficult process and when I'm seeing 13 positions that were wrong, with us it wasn't the case. And it's just good to see there is a penalty, whether we deem it to be too low or too high."