It was earlier this year when Mercedes was complaining about the “bendy” rear wing of Red Bull, which appeared to bend slightly back at speed to give Red Bull a straight-line advantage, when you don’t need downforce. Now it is Red Bull’s turn to complain about Mercedes’ wings, after a race in Brazil when Mercedes had a decisive straight line speed advantage.
This is for a similar reason, as Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says that Red Bull was able to spot “score marks” on Hamilton’s car in Brazil, which, he says, show that it has been illegally flexing. Mercedes says that they have had a look and seen no such score marks. Of course, Horner says he will protest in the upcoming races if he thinks something is still off.
“Would I protest?,” said Horner. “Yeah, absolutely. If we believe the car is not in compliance, we will protest. The straight-line speeds that we’ve seen in Mexico and in Brazil, I mean, I think everybody could see Brazil was not a normal situation.
“And yes, a new engine we know with Mercedes comes with increased performance. But when you have a 27 kilometre [per hour] difference, and you see marks on rear end plates that have been marking up from wings that have been flexing…
“It’s very clear to us what has been going on. So, of course, that’s why I refer it’s down the FIA to make sure that the cars are in compliance. If they’re not, you protest if you believe that a competitor isn’t complying with the rules.”
Later Horner added: “We’ll follow the situation. It will depend on really what happens this weekend.
There will always be some flex to every Formula 1 car wing, because infinite stiffness is not possible, but too much flex is illegal, even if racing has a rich history of teams pushing the envelope with it, including, of course, Red Bull. Anyway, Horner made his remarks Friday as he shared the room with his counterpart at Mercedes, Toto Wolff, as the two engaged in what Motorsport.com says was a “heated” discussion.
“I think we’ve been controlled 14 times on this very particular wing, the FIA has all drawings about it. There is no such thing as Red Bull expects there to be. So we are happy to send it, cut it, we can send you one to Milton Keynes.”
Horner then spoke directly to Wolff, saying: “So how do you explain the score marks on the rear wing endplate?”
“I think it’s within what is allowed,” Wolff replied. “And, therefore, that’s okay.”
“I think that nobody would show up at the track with an illegal engine or an illegal rear wing,” said Wolff. “The world is too transparent for that. And you would be mad if you take decisions in a team with such a high visibility that are illegal, 100%.”
Wolff comes off a little villainous here, but the reality is that if Horner is mad about anything, it’s that his team doesn’t have the possible illegal edge. And I would guess that if something dramatic happens on Sunday — maybe Hamilton DNFs for some reason — and Verstappen pulls away in the title race, we won’t be hearing too much more about these wings. If it remains close, though, you can expect Red Bull’s complaint to only get louder.