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Red Bull threaten Mercedes with rear-wing protest after making discovery

Red Bull threaten Mercedes with rear-wing protest after making discovery

F1 News

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Red Bull threaten Mercedes with rear-wing protest after making discovery

Red Bull threaten Mercedes with rear-wing protest after making discovery
Ian Parkes & Ewan Gale

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has warned Mercedes of an impending protest over the legality of its rear wings after finding "witness [score] marks" in Brazil last week.

Concerns from Red Bull directed towards the Mercedes component ramped up during the São Paulo Grand Prix as chief technical officer Adrian Newey and chief engineer Paul Monaghan began talks with the FIA over the legality of the rear wing.

Mercedes' straight-line speeds have improved massively since the Turkish Grand Prix, with the advantage held in Brazil raising its rival's eyebrows significantly given the vast difference in maximum velocity during qualifying.

Max Verstappen was seen inspecting the rear wing of Lewis Hamilton's car after qualifying, landing himself in hot water with the FIA for breaking parc fermé protocols.

It seems, however, the Dutchman and his team have found evidence to suggest the wing flexes in such a way to reduce the effect of drag when under load at maximum velocity.

Asked if he would protest the wing should the team believe the W12 was non-compliant, Horner replied: "Yeah, absolutely.

"If we believe the car is not in compliance, we will protest because the straight-line speeds we could see in Mexico and Brazil, I mean I think everybody could see in Brazil it was not a normal situation.

"Yes, a new engine for Mercedes comes with an increase in performance but when you have a 27kph closing speed, and you see witness marks on rear wing end-plates that have been marking up from wings that have been flexing, it is very clear to us what has been going on.

"Of course, that is why I refer that it is down to the FIA to make sure the cars are in compliance but if we feel they are not, you protest if you believe a competitor isn't complying with the rules."

F1 has arrived in Qatar for the first race in the country, with just two races to run in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi before a champion is crowned.

Asked how far away the team was from a decision to protest, Horner commented: "We will follow the situation and it will depend on really what happens this weekend and the analysis we conduct.

"It is not just applied to here because the straights are even more pertinent on the two circuits coming up. "As a competitor, we know they have paid attention to our cars throughout the season. We are obviously doing the same [to theirs].

"It is high stakes, there is an awful lot to play for and we want to make sure it is an even playing field."

Mercedes would be "mad" to use illegal parts - Wolff

In response, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff categorically denied there was any non-conformity in the team's rear wings but conceded he understood that protests would be triggered if Red Bull was sceptical.

"I think I have always said that that is how you fight," said Wolff.

"You try to avoid that a competitor has an advantage. If you are led by scepticism because someone told you something and you suspect that to be the root cause, you go for it.

"We said that we have been controlled 14 times on this very particular wing. The FIA has all the drawings about it. There is no such thing as Red Bull expects there to be so we are happy to send it, cut it. Can send you one to Milton Keynes.

"I think that nobody would show up at the track with an illegal engine or an illegal rear wing.

"The world is too transparent for that and you would be mad if you take decisions in the team with such a high visibility that are illegal, 100 per cent."

When asked by Horner to explain the score marks on the rear-wing endplate, Wolff replied: "It is within what is allowed, and that is okay."

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