FIA take action ahead of Qatar GP as Red Bull raise suspicions over Mercedes rear wing

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Red Bull say the FIA will be testing all rear wings after qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix after raising concerns about the legality of Mercedes’ rear wing. According to Red Bull, the supporting surface of Mercedes’ rear wing is moving when travelling down the straights at high speeds on the track, reducing the drag on the W12.

Red Bull have not lodged a formal protest, however, they have released an image with what they claim are “score marks” to “give an example” of what is happening at Mercedes.

Speaking about the image, Horner told Sky Sports F1: “It’s part of a piece of a puzzle, we’re not going to disclose a full protest document here, it’s just to give you an example of what is happening and why we’re seeing this exponential straight-line speed.

“So the FIA have got all that, they’re the people that can go and check these things and we’re really delighted to see that they’ve introduced a fact-finding mission here, that after qualifying, they’re going to be testing these wings.”

Mercedes have denied the allegations against their car, adding that the FIA are happy with the legality of their rear wing.

Speaking at a press conference, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff invited Horner to dig deeper into it.

“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 [and protest],” he said.

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“We’ve said that we’ve been controlled 14 times on this very particular rear wing, the FIA has all drawings about it and there is no such thing as Red Bull expects there to be.

“So we are happy to send it, cut it — I can send you one to [Red Bull’s factory in] Milton Keynes.”

But Horner was pleased the FIA would be investigating further, revealing the governing body will be conducting “pull tests” after qualifying.

He continued: “There’ll be a pull-down test on the back of the wing. So effectively, an amount of load will be added to the back of the wing, I think it’d be probably closer to, split across the wing, is probably going to be 70/80 kilos, and it’ll be ramped up in stages.

“So you’ll see what you’ll be able to measure the deflection.

“So it’s great that the FIA are being proactive, they’re looking at it, because our concern isn’t so much here, where straight-line speed isn’t at the premium that it is it’s potentially Saudi and Abu Dhabi, so we’re glad that they’re taking this very seriously.”

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The picture Red Bull provided was from a previous race, and not one from Qatar – yet – as Horner added they have a picture from each event since the race in Hungary, but claims they’ve been seeing the changes in the rear wing to an “increasing extent” over the past few races.

Horner explained: “I think because It’s under the flap it is very difficult to see because the flat covers that so from a rear-facing camera, of course, you can’t see it.”

The FIA test would be done when the car is static, but what Red Bull claim is happening occurs when the car is moving.

Horner added: “Anywhere above 250Ks, Then you can see that’s where it starts to move.

“So you know with the quality of high speed photography nowadays, that’s what all teams are doing.

“That’s what’s happening to our car, the technical guys are intrigued to know what is going on with competitors.

“That’s as part of Formula One. I think the test they’re introducing would expose any flexibility in that area.

“What you have to remember is the FIA have five people looking at this. There are thousands of engineers in this pit lane that are looking at ways of exploiting rules and that’s part of the nature of Formula One.

“But of course, you know, when you see something like that, and you see the straight-line speed that we have in recent races, of course, we just want to make sure that with so much at stake, the next three races are absolutely an even playing field.”

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