Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has questioned Toto Wolff on the legality of Mercedes’ car, and threatened to launch a protest.
As we approach the final three races of the season, tensions between Red Bull and Mercedes are running high.
After Mercedes’ dominant performance at the Brazilian Grand Prix, Red Bull has raised concerns over the legality of Mercedes’ car, especially their rear wing.
At the Qatar Grand Prix Friday Press Conference, Christian Horner was asked if his team would consider launching an official protest.
“Would I protest? Yeah, absolutely,” the Briton said.
“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 to 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.”
Horner then clarified that a protest would be launched depending on what happens in Qatar.
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“We’ll follow the situation. It will depend on really what happens this weekend.
“It’s not just applied to here, because I think in many respects it’s even more pertinent to the two circuits that are coming up.
“I’m sure Mercedes paid a huge amount of attention to our car through the season, and we are obviously doing the same.
“And obviously, it’s high stakes, there’s an awful lot to play for. And as I said, we just want to make sure it’s an equal playing field.”
Wolff, who joined Horner at the press conference, then gave his comments on the W12’s legality.
“I think I’ve always said that,” said the Austrian.
“That is how you fight, you’re trying to avoid that a competitor has an advantage. If you’re led by scepticism, because someone told you something, and you expect that to be the root cause, you should go for it.
“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 asked Wolff: “So how do you explain the score marks on the rear wing endplate?”
“I think it’s within what is allowed, and therefore that’s okay,” Wolff replied.
The Austrian then said it would be mad to arrive for a race with an illegal car.
“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 a team with such a high visibility that are illegal, 100%.”
Horner then said Red Bull’s car is completely legal.
“Does our car comply with the rules? Absolutely,” Horner said.
“Do we have concerns over the gains in straight-line speed [at Mercedes] that we’ve seen since Budapest? But really, they’ve been exponential in the last couple of races, absolutely.
“Do we expect the FIA as the scrutineer and the policeman of the sport to ensure that all the cars are compliant?
“The rules are a complex set of regulations. So we rely very, very heavily on the FIA to ensure that it’s absolutely scrupulously fair.
“Because what we absolutely want going into these last few races is a fair fight, whoever comes out at the end of this on top, it shouldn’t be in a stewards room, it shouldn’t be in a court of appeal, it needs to be done on track.
“And we just want to ensure that going into these last few races, that these cars are being scrupulously policed and are in full compliance, because there’s too much at stake,” concluded the Briton.