Christian Horner says the advantage that Mercedes’ rear wing gives them is “hidden in the way that it operates”.
Red Bull have been keeping a very close eye on their rival’s rear wing in recent times, with Max Verstappen fined 50,000 Euros for touching it after qualifying in Brazil.
Throughout that weekend, Horner refused to reveal what it was specifically about the part that his team were suspicious about, but he provided more details in a discussion with Toto Wolff while the two sat together in a press conference in Qatar, bringing up marks on the endplate.
That’s all that is really known about the matter though, with cameras and broadcasters not finding anything clearly out of the ordinary with the back of the W12.
The Red Bull team principal says that whatever it is that is giving Mercedes an advantage is hidden in how it works though and that the speed of the car speaks for itself.
“Obviously, the directives that came out prior to Azerbaijan had a material effect, and I think that this is something even more advanced,” he told Sky Sports.
“It’s hidden in the way that it operates, so it’s harder to spot from a camera. But you can see the straight-line performance since Hungary, and particularly in the last two grands prix, has gone exponential.
“I think that obviously concerns us, and that’s why Adrian [Newey, chief technical officer] and Paul [Monaghan, chief engineer} have been discussing it with the FIA.”
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In the press conference in Qatar, Horner also said that Red Bull would protest if they felt the Mercedes car was not in compliance with the rules after conducting analysis in Qatar.
He doubled down on that threat when speaking to Sky too, and his and Red Bull’s suspicions only grew in the first day of running there due to the straight-line speeds recorded at the track.
“If we see it on the car here, it will be protested,” he added.
“I think that [it’s] probably less of a factor here [in Qatar], although we obviously saw significant straight-line speed in that session [FP1] again, another probably seven kilometres an hour difference between our cars.”
It was a mixed first day for Red Bull, with Max Verstappen topping FP1 but being some way off Valtteri Bottas in FP2 while Sergio Perez encountered serious oscillation issues on his own rear wing.