Mercedes should ‘keep their mouths shut’ over wing protest – Horner

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner warned Mercedes not to protest their cars in Azerbaijan.

Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff has indicated the team could protest Red Bull’s rear wings, which were seen flexing at previous races.

“There’s obviously been a lot of noise, that Mercedes have been driving, about the rear wings,” Horner told Sky. “The bottom line is if the car complies with the rules, it passes the test, it’s legal. The FIA come up with the test.”

Both teams ran revised, slimmer rear wings on their cars during today’s practice sessions and both were observed flexing.

“That [Mercedes rear wing], if anything, around here looks a bit worse than ours,” said Horner, who has also previously questioned whether his rival’s front wings comply with the rules forbidding moveable aerodynamic devices.

“Obviously a lot of noise has been made about the rear wing and a lot of revisions have had to be made. And so if you’re picking on one end of the car, you have to look at the other. You can’t look at one part in isolation and say that set of rules only applies to that element on that car. You have to look at [all] areas so sometimes you have to be a little bit careful what you wish for.”

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Baku City Circuit, 2021
Pictures: Azerbaijan Grand Prix practice day one
“If I was Toto, with the front wing he’s got on his car, I’d keep my mouth shut,” he added.

The FIA will introduce a revised, tougher rear wing flexibility test following this weekend’s race. While Mercedes and other teams believe the test should have been introduced prior to this race, Horner said teams needed to be given time to redesign their bodywork.

“All cars have a degree of flexibility,” he said. “The weight that’s going onto these wings; it’s impossible to make an entirely rigid structure there when you’ve got tons of downforce being applied to it.

“So I think even teams like from Alfa Romeo upwards, even Haas, I think are struggling with some of the introduction of these new tests. So it’s nothing new. It’s been around for years and years. And of course, there are very stringent tests that we are subjected to after each session.”

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2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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31 comments on “Mercedes should ‘keep their mouths shut’ over wing protest – Horner”

  1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    4th June 2021, 15:44

    If it was merely Red Bull doing something and no other teams, then yeah, sure, I could understand Wolff’s reaction. But if more than half the grid does something and you don’t, it just makes you look stupid if you complain about it. Clearly angry about missing the boat.

    What’s ironic is that Wolff uses the same defense as Red Bull when it comes to the front wing: ‘but others are doing it too and it’s not _that_ bad’.

    Biggest issue the FIA has caused with their half-measure and their dots on the wing is that there’s also no clear line as to what is seen as good and too much when it comes to flexing. Red Bull has clearly redisigned its wing so it flexes less, yet it still flexes. Does Toto Wolff or Andreas Seidl now decide whether it’s okay or not by being able to protest it?

    I understand that it’s impossible to say ‘it can only flex X-mm on the straight’, but you must as least have some sort of value to enforce it and let teams know what to expect. Now it’s anyones guess whether a wing flexes too much, as it’s merely someones definition of ‘too much’ that is the deciding factor.

  2. Won’t be surprised of these two have separate contracts with Netflix to spice things up from time to time.

  3. William Jones
    4th June 2021, 16:09

    If Christian had ignored the issue, brushed off every journalist with a simple “We’ve got nothing to worry about”, then I might believe that he’s got nothing to worry about. As it is, with this sort of overreaction, in the face of pictures of his front wing doing the exact same as the mercs, his threat to protest them couldn’t possibly be more flaccid. And when a highly educated, highly pr trained man such as Christian Horner makes threats that even the least knowledgeable fan can see are hollow, then you know, not only does he have nothing at all, but he is running scared. Based purely on his various overreactions alone, I now believe there is a reasonable possibility that the entire red bull aero package is dependant on flexi wings. I cannot think of another reason for him soiling his own bed like this.

    1. Horner is highly educated? Seriously? Where did you get that information from? Please define your definition of highly educated. I would hardly call A levels as highly educated.

    2. William Jones The only one overreacting is you. He is the opposite of what you are saying, and is just taking this all in stride. He’s had a legal wing, they’ll change the test, he’ll still have a legal wing, and life moves on. Pointing out the reality that it is silly to talk about rear wings flexing without talking about front wings moving too, which they all also do, is merely stating a fact. The curious thing is why it is you have felt the need to invent such nonsense about his reaction to all this.

      1. @robbie not to mention that this is just Horner to a ‘T’. He knows how things will be reported, and has mentioned the Merc front wing before. Nothing unusual here, carry on.

  4. Mercedes at the moment seems to have more pressing concerns on pace.
    Lets see what happens after Baku. For now lets go racing.

    1. @pinakghosh – Exactly. That is why they are trying to find fault with others.

      Reply moderated
  5. I don’t think the Mercedes front wing is flexing any more than any of the others have since the wider wings & cascade elements were introduced some years ago. When you have these cascade elements with no support on the inner edge you are going to get a lot of deflection under the sort of loads they are put under.

    The Red Bull rear wing however is clearly moving quite a lot more than anyone else’s & doing so in a very different way to what anyone else’s is doing from what i’ve seen.

    But this back & forth is just part of the sport, Although the way Sky are really pushing it is making it seem like a way bigger deal than these things usually are. They ask Christian, They ask Toto, They show each the footage of the other & demand a response.

    It’s typical Sky tabloid ‘journalism’. They are the worst thing to have ever happened to F1 broadcasting, Tabloid journalism as well as taking the sport away from fans & hiding it behind a paywall just because they can spend more than anyone else to be able to put the paywall up. And the coverage you have to pay £40+ a month for isn’t even as good as what we used to be getting for ‘free’. It’s awful coverage with far too many talking heads who either have nothing to say or just repeat what all the other talking heads say which tends to be what the Sky overloads want to push (gimmick races, reverse grids & such).

    Even Brundle who was once the most insightful & sensible part of the crew is now just another talking head pushing the same narrative as everyone else on the sky team.
    No diverse views or opinions on the awful sky coverage, Just a bunch of talking heads who all push the same artificial gimmicky tabloid agenda!

  6. I think the real reason Christian is so worked up is because of the budget cap.

    Everything that they have to spend in altering any part of the car they may feel they need to alter for the new test’s is money they can’t spend on development for performance. And I think Toto knows that which is also why he’s pushing the issue as much as he is.

    1. @stefmeister I don’t think CH is worked up at all. Sounds like he’s just taking it all in stride.

  7. “The bottom line is if the car complies with the rules, it passes the test, it’s legal. The FIA come up with the test.”

    I keep hearing this logic and it seems a little desperate. It’s like saying speeding is OK as long as the cop’s radar gun doesn’t read you over the limit. The rule is don’t speed, not “don’t get caught.” If you speed and you get caught, you can’t complain there wasn’t a speed trap in that spot yesterday.

    1. A little different in this case as the rule says that the aero must not be movable and then the deflection limit puts a definition on excessive movement.
      A closer analogy would be the rule says don’t speed and the speed limit puts a definition on excessive speed.

      Reply moderated
    2. @dmw But that is kind of what F1 has always been: don’t get caught. Countless times in the past we have seen teams do questionable things that are probably illegal but haven’t been caught in the act of doing it (notably Ferrari’s fuel flow sensor trick recently). And in many other instances (such as water-cooled brakes, BAR’s underweight cars, or Renault’s ‘definitely not ABS’ braking system), even when the teams did get caught, they were only disqualified from 1 race because the FIA couldn’t prove that they had done it at previous races.

      1. @randommallard in the case of BAR and the illegal fuel reservoir on the 007, they were also served with a two race ban, not just a disqualification.

  8. Horner is one to talk. Mercedes DAS was within the rules but it didn’t stop him from whining about it.

    1. Seem to recall a few mentions of the Mercedes Magic Button coming out of his whiny little mouth every other race as well.
      Still I expect the more rigid rear wing from RB appearing this race weekend is just a coincidence.

      1. And the magic button was legal until fia decided it could not be used. Again after the Booooooring French gp.

    2. Except that he didn’t whine about it. He asked for clarification about DAS, FIA gave it, and everyone moved on.

      1. @robbie you’re trying to present the fact that Horner “asked for clarification” because he wasn’t allowed to protest it at the time as some sort of act of charity, when he was in fact trying to do the maximum that he could before the first race to lobby for changes.

        As soon as Red Bull were able to file a protest, they did – and Marko certainly didn’t “move on” immediately either, as he was still complaining later in the season about DAS being permitted.

    3. Well, the removal of DAS is possibly why they can’t get their tires up to temp. They had a gimmick that was taken away and they didn’t prepare for the true loss, or more aptly put, how much it helped. Toto kept down playing it’s significance, but the proof is last year they smoked the field and this year they are having issues with generating tire temps at the front.

      1. bosco ok fair comment but I must say I’d sure be surprised if DAS was that powerful, especially given how strong Mercedes has been in general so far this season, but hey let’s see. It is a simple fact that last year they had it and this year they don’t, so it’s just another aspect to what is a very interesting season.

        1. I think you have to realise the impact DAS would have had on the front tyres, having the option to run them anywhere from the normal off camber alignment to total aligned with the track would be a huge advantage in managing temperature.

          Reply moderated
  9. The Wolff-Horner rivalry seems to be fiercer than that of Max and Lewis :D

  10. I have to admit that this is a bit of an overreaction from Horner. But it is somewhat understandable. The press has been trying to squeeze everything out of this debate for weeks now, and not much has really changed in what they’re saying. Perhaps if the press decided to ask about something else then maybe we might see a slightly cooler debate over this.

    (This is not a direct attack on any publication/website in particular, just the press in general.)

    1. @randommallard When I hear things such as ‘bit of an overreaction’ I do wonder if you are taking the headline verbatim and not carefully reading his actual fuller quote. I find the headline puts a harsher tone to Horner’s words than needs be, but that’s headlines for you.

      “If I was Toto, with the front wing he’s got on his car, I’d keep my mouth shut,” is I find a lot less harsh than the headline and puts some context to it, especially when he is saying ‘careful what you wish for’ as well.

      So for me I just think Horner is reacting normally and sensibly and certainly not overreacting, let alone whining and crying as some non-fans want to describe.

      1. Absolutely, the article headline was phrased as an aggressive instruction, the body text version was a gentle threat cloaked as advice, big difference.

  11. I agree, all Lewhine and Wolf crier have done is whining, crying and complaining since Spain
    The way it’s going they should add Spotify as a sponsor and start a podcast together

  12. Mercedes-Red Bull rivalry going off!

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