Marko expects Mercedes to avoid a Baku ‘scandal’

Date published: May 26 2021 - Jon Wilde

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton

Dr Helmut Marko thinks Mercedes will back away from any rear-wing protest in Baku – as it would have to include “eight cars”, not just Red Bull.

Flexi-wings, or “bendy wings” as Sir Lewis Hamilton called them, have become a hot topic in Formula 1 over the last few weeks ever since the seven-time World Champion claimed Red Bull had “gained at least three tenths” from theirs in Spanish Grand Prix qualifying.

The FIA announced four days later they would be introducing new tests to outlaw wing designs that “exhibit excessive deflections while the cars are in motion” and which “can have a significant influence on the car’s aerodynamic performance”.

But those tests will not come in until June 15, just before the French Grand Prix, which means the current designs can still be used in Azerbaijan with its long straight – where Hamilton said Red Bull’s wing is “going to be worth at least six tenths, probably”.

Mercedes F1 team principal and co-owner Toto Wolff is unhappy about the timing, saying if Red Bull still have the same wing in Baku that they have been using to date then it will “go to the stewards… and if the stewards are not enough then the International Court of Appeal”.

However, Red Bull advisor Marko says the majority of teams on the F1 grid are using wings with similar designs to the RB16B – and that is likely to deter Mercedes from protesting as it would create a “major scandal”.

Helmut Marko looking at Mercedes

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“Mercedes would have to protest against eight cars,” Marko told F1 Insider. “Because in addition to us, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Alpine are also affected. Do you really want to do that and cause a major scandal? I don’t think so.”

Red Bull have confirmed they will modify their rear wing to comply with the new tests, at a potential cost of “half a million dollars” according to team principal Christian Horner.

Aston Martin boss Otmar Szafnauer, who says his team are unaffected by the new directive, has claimed it would be feasible to have a new rear wing in place for Baku on June 4-6 – but Marko disagrees.

“We are changing our wing so it passes the new tests as required at the time required by the FIA,” said the 78-year-old Austrian.

“But that doesn’t work for Baku. We can’t do that in terms of time because we have to adjust the entire rear end. You can’t just build a new grand piano.”

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