Red Bull team principal Christian Horner played down the potential advantage gained by having a ‘flexi-wing’ on the back of his cars.
Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez looked quick from the outset in practice in Azerbaijan, with Lewis Hamilton previously predicting the rear wing solution for Red Bull would be worth around three-tenths per lap in top-end speed. Baku’s 2.2km straight makes straight-line speed extremely important in Azerbaijan, and Hamilton felt that pace advantage could be extended further as a result.
The rhetoric between the two teams has been escalating regarding how the teams’ cars have been built. With Mercedes questioning the legality of Red Bull’s rear wings, Horner bit back and said Toto Wolff should “keep his mouth shut” on the issue, alleging that the Silver Arrows’ front wings would also contravene the rules.
Horner isn’t convinced the wings alone account for their advantage, however – choosing to highlight the team’s overall package instead.
“I think it’s been overstated,” Horner told reporters in Baku. “I think I’ve heard numbers of half a second being quoted [by Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer].
“I think you can see that our rear wing is arguably flexing less than the Mercedes rear wing.
“It certainly wasn’t half a second of lap-time delta. I think it’s all been a little bit overhyped in the media, like all these things it’s never a certain bullet.
“You need to have a car working well, you need engine, vehicle dynamics, aerodynamics all working in harmony. It’s never one single factor.”
Wolff v Horner round 345:
After Christian told Toto to keep his mouth shut on Friday, Wolff replies:
"Christian is a bit of windbag that wants to be on camera…he should be a bit more modest I think."#F1
— Planet F1 (@Planet_F1) June 5, 2021
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With Formula 1’s budget cap coming into force this season, Horner believes a direct adjustment to the tests and rules surrounding wing flexibility, which will be introduced at the French Grand Prix, has the potential to cause financial problems for the affected teams.
“It’s effectively a change to regulation, so I think it actually hurts the little teams more financially because it affects teams like Haas and Alfa Romeo from what I hear,” he added.
“For us it’s more of a factor regarding the budget cap, so it’s not ideal but it is what it is.”