Russell wants strict penalties for any budget cap breaches

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BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Mercedes driver George Russell has called on Formula One's governing body, the FIA, to hand down strict penalties to anyone who breached the 2022 budget cap, suggesting that a repeat offence by Red Bull should be met with the harshest sanction possible.

F1's cost cap is back in the headlines, with the FIA finalising the audits into the 2022 accounts of all 10 teams.

Last year, Red Bull was handed a $7 million fine and a 10% reduction in aerodynamic testing capability for what was deemed to be a minor breach of the 2021 cap.

The scale of that penalty has been controversial, with Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur calling it "very light."

There is no timeframe for when the FIA will announce who did and did not adhere to the cap but the governing body is aiming to do so earlier than last year, when the previous season's reports came out in October once Red Bull had already won both 2022 championships.

"If anybody has breached any regulation you want the punishment to represent the crime," Russell said ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

"I think there were breaches last year and clearly the punishment didn't fit the crime. We don't want to be seeing that happen again, and if it's a second-time offender the punishment should be even greater than perhaps what is a fair punishment, if it's happened two years in a row.

"I trust in the FIA. I think Mohammed [Ben Sulayem, FIA President] is a great force there, as well. They won't be letting anyone get away with anything that happened under their watch so I have faith in them."

F1 boss Stefano Domenicali has said any breaches of the 2022 budget cap must be met with sporting sanctions, which could range from points deductions to outright disqualification, instead of financial penalties.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton echoed what his Mercedes teammate had to say, adding that Red Bull's penalty will not have deterred teams from pushing the limits of the cap.

"It's definitely a concern," Hamilton said on Thursday.

"I mean, there wasn't really a big punishment last time, so there's no real... There will be people that will probably go for it again and know they're just going to get a slap on the wrist."

The FIA has responded to the recent talk about budget cap sanctions in a statement this week.

"The FIA notes that comments regarding changes to the framing of current and future Formula 1 regulations have recently appeared in the media," the governing body said.

"The FIA stresses that while it welcomes opinions from stakeholders, the regulatory powers over all FIA Championships -- including the FIA Formula 1 World Championship -- are vested in the FIA.

"Any technical, sporting or financial sanctions and/or amendments to such regulations will follow due process."