Red Bull’s reaction to questions over reliability fixes is “weird” – Wolff

2021 Styrian Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has called attention to how rivals Red Bull have responded to questions relating to their power unit.

The Honda-powered team introduced its second power unit at last weekend’s race in France. Under Formula 1’s rules, manufacturers cannot make changes to their engines after the start of the season except for reliability reasons.

Following last week’s race, Lewis Hamilton suggested Red Bull had used “upgraded” power units. But Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said their new engines were “the same specification as the first unit” and their superior straight-line performance was because they had “run a much smaller rear wing”.

Asked whether Honda could have made changes to their engines for reliability reasons which allowed them to use higher performance modes, Wolff said: “I wonder why that is such a topic when we all know that the power units need to be homologated.

“I’m really surprised that the Red Bull guys keep protesting so loudly on the power unit story,” he added. “So that is a bit weird.”

“The rules are very clear,” Wolff continued. “It’s homologated, you can come up with reliability fixes and that’s it.

“Obviously there is certain things you can clean up but you have your tokens and you need to use them and that’s it so there shouldn’t be any power advantage as such.”

However Wolff said the performance of Red Bull’s engines is only one reason for their current margin over his team.

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“It’s always the interaction between a strong power unit, lots of downforce and making the tyres work,” he said. “And I think they are just doing a very good job.

“We’ve already seen it in Ricard where they were able to run a smaller wing whilst not losing a lot through the twisty bit. So overall just a very strong package.”

During today’s post-qualifying press conference, Max Verstappen responded to a question about his Honda power unit’s performance at higher altitudes by insisting their rear wing levels explained the team’s margin over Mercedes.

“We’ve always been quite good with altitude,” he said, “but I think next time I’m going to bring a printout of the rear wing difference we’re running and then I’m going to hand it over to every single journalist. I get this question now like two, three weeks that we are really quick on the straight.

“And yes, we are. But look at our rear wing, I don’t think its exactly the same.

“For sure, Honda did a great job, I mean, compared to last year. But from our first engine to the engine we have in the car now, it’s all about reliability improvements and no clear advantage on pure power. So, I’m going to fire up my printer next time and I’m going to hand over a few shots.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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50 comments on “Red Bull’s reaction to questions over reliability fixes is “weird” – Wolff”

  1. Chris Horton
    26th June 2021, 18:32

    What else is wrong Toto?

    Reply moderated
  2. It is so disappointing to keep hearing this line from the team that was winning for eight years. And still won few races ago.

    Instead of looking in the mirror, there is constant complaining about RB. Wings. Pitstops. Engine.

    I expect better from them.

    1. I expected it from them, they are poor winners and poor losers.

    2. They claim to “enjoy” the battle, yet nothing they have done suggests that. Every single time a team has bettered them, they’ve complained. It is embarrassing at this point.

      They’re even trying to make Bottas spinning in the pit lane seem like a trivial matter where they were only punished because teams complained, while at the same time complaining to the FIA that Red Bull’s <2 second pit stops are dangerous.

      Reply moderated
  3. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    26th June 2021, 18:39

    So by getting responses from questions you ask, you can claim it’s weird you get answers? Gee, who would’ve thought…

    1. someone or something
      29th June 2021, 20:58

      Wolff: We think Red Bull are breaking the rules in an area that’s extremely easy to control.
      Horner: What? No.
      Wolff: ISN’T IT WEIRD HOW THEY KEEP SAYING THAT?

  4. This is getting really disgusting.

    1. Personally I love it @saimonix. They are losing, and they are rattled.

  5. its following a clear pattern. Lewis “suggests”” something and Toto finishes it.
    Flex wings ( impossible to see for lewis, you need a camera with matrix for that)
    lewis “noticed”.. toto scores..
    Engine : lewis notices, Toto scores.
    etc. etc..
    they really do feel the pressure. And RBR is getting under their skin more than they expeed.
    A bit disappointing if this is the way they greet “the fight on track”

    1. It is more of annoyance it came down to this >>>
      Redbul whined about engine freeze so they can catch up in power before mercedes improve again, because noone after honda wanted to supply them even a wheel nut (wonder why that is?)
      Redbul whined/requested about all the aero changes, now who benefited most from this? let me tell you this, hamilton had a collision and lost the leading edges of rear left side of the floor in front of the rear tyre, he lost huge performance (by their standard, 2 tenths roughly?, and who do you think noticed about this? (cough adrian/cough redbul) who advocated these floor cut at that edges of the rear? One can only wonder….

      Their car was high rake always, so the current changes didnt effect them as much, but they were there to slow mercedes, not improve redbul!

      Redbul is only being hypocrites with their comments demands whines and request…. All were towards mercedes, and thanx to FIA it happened.

      But we have seen Ferrari 17/18 more than half season quite in the lead…. we will find out at the end of the season how it will pan out.

      Also i wouldnt be surprised if honda stayed instead of quitting (would show how great stunt of lies by redbull played, to stall mercedes development, and extra slow down by aero requests/changes)

      1. The Honda story sounds familiar from the same dimension f1tollosaurus lives in.
        The aero change of the the front wing in 2018 hurt RBR the most. They did not liked it but took actions.
        The theory that low rake cars are hurt more by the recent aero is only a theory. Looking at the speed of the mercedes they did nog lost much. Even Hamilton said he lost pole today because of his mistakes, Not because the car.
        The engine freeze was accepted by all manufacturers, even Ferrari. For years mercedes had an engine that was a class above the field. Look at the Paddy lowe story about that. If they used it to the fullest the FIA would have clipped their wings in 2015.
        But again, i see a Hamilton fan that already gives up and is looking for excuses…
        It will be a long season for you ;)

      2. @mysticus The engone freeze was always going to happen in 2023, it was just brought forward to 2022, along with the new engine formula being brought forward from 2026 to 2025. It is also worth pointing out that the teams and engine manufacturers voted UNANIMOUSLY in favour of bringing the freeze forward, so Mercedes with their two votes seemed happy enough to comply.

        Additionally, can you suggest any viable alternative to the floor downforce reduction that wouldn’t affect anybody? Something like 8 of the 10 teams use a high rake concept, it makes sense that the regulations suit them more. They are going to hurt somebody, so why should they choose to hurt the concept used by the vast majority of teams. Furthermore, G1 history is scattered with examples of regulation changes pulling people back. I don’t see why people act like this is new. Here are a few examples from the top of my head:

        Banning of Ground Efrect severely hurt Lotus
        Turbo Ban severely hurt the dominant Honda teams
        Electronics ban badly hurt Williams
        Move to narrower cars for 1998 also severely hurt Williams
        2005 rule changes hurt Ferrari
        McLaren and especially Ferrari couldn’t adapt well to the 2009 rule changes
        Renault didn’t manage to produce a good PU when the hybrid era started in 2014.

  6. Wolf is quickly taking over Horner’s role as crybaby. The sad thing is, FIA Listens to him.

    1. Nonono, Horner might be a crybaby, but Toto is a snake.
      He is turning out to be one of the most despicable teambosses in the history of this sport with his consistent barrage of insinuations RBR are cheating.

      1. He is turning out to be one of the most despicable teambosses in the history of this sport

        I would suggest reading a bit more of the history of the sport. Toto has some way to go before he matches some of the bigger villains in F1’s past. One guy was such a crook he got arrested in the paddock.

        1. @red-andy I believe the co-owner of Larousse in the 1990s (it may have been Ligier, but I think it was Larousse) was arrested on suspicion of murder I believe, and asked the police if he could fetch something from upstairs before they took him away. He pulled out a grenade and threw it towards the police officers in the hallway below.

          Coincidentally, that was the second Larousse co-owner to be a fugitive, as co-founder of the team Didier Calmels was also convicted of murdering his wife.

      2. Guess it comes down to perspective. Horner and Marko are Snakes IMO. We all have our biases and perspectives.

  7. I’m really surprised that the Red Bull guys keep protesting so loudly on the power unit story

    Because you guys keep insinuating so loudly! Sometimes I feel like I live I another world 🤦

    1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
      26th June 2021, 19:01

      Yep. I had the same with years-on-end claiming they were lacking pace and had a huge challenge ahead of them, only to pip everyone on saturday and sunday with half a second.

      Then years later Paddy Lowe actually admits they ran the engines in idle mode to make it look less insane than it really was.

      1. Ok…but what point are you making here?

  8. Toto never stops to amuse me.

    1st the problem was the wings. FIA changes the rules even if all teams passes the static tests.

    2nd was the pitstops. FIA changes the rules for the sole reason to hit RB. They force the only team that never had a tyre incident 11 years in a row to go slower.

    3nd now is the engine. What about the Honda engine? I never saw MB to accept anything when the last 7 years swept everyone on engine side (bar the Ferrari Gate).

    4th i somehow wait for the new stronger tires to fit MB perfectly like 2 years before that changed in Middle season because MB destroyed them.

    This somehow must be stop or else at least in my eyes he will end up a sore loser and i respect the guy for what his team has achieve all the previous years .

    At last let someone else win fair and square and i say this as a pure fan and as a person that doesn’t like RB at all because it’s not a real F1 team in my eyes. Im old school F1 lover.

    1. Kind of reminds you of the years of “Ferrari International Assistance”, no?

      1. This is far worse i think. Ferrari got the rub of the green on track with some questionable stewarding decisions. The rules from 2003,4,5 were quite often made at the start of the season with the sole intention of stopping Ferrari. Here we are seeing the opposite where they are changing the rules mid season to help Mercedes in every way they can.

      2. It suprises me how badly the memory of some is. Did we forget the nummerous time RedBull sought clarifications to slow down Merc. Come on guys, it’s the name of the game. Toto and Lewis are just stating the obvious, they lose on the straights

  9. From the point of view from a morally bankrupt person incapable of imagining what it can do to a person if one keeps insinuating said person is cheating, it probably is.
    Mr. Nice Guy turns out to be the rat Ross spoke of.

  10. lol an increase in reliability would likely allow the team to run the engine at higher levels than prior to any reliability improvements. Toto knows this he is just trying to create controversy.

      1. Teams have been playing this reliability card since the first “homologation” rules were put in place, about 15 years ago.
        Most of the teams, Mercedes included, maintained some form of power unit development work under the guise of “reliability improvements” . If there happens to be a gain in output or drivability, well, that was an interesting side effect.
        Yes, it is laughable for any power unit group to complain about it when they are probably all doing it. But that is the game.

  11. Wow. I have to agree with the initial comments above. I mean, I still respect the guy for what they have done, and particularly for letting LH and NR settle it on the track, but my goodness, the more he talks the more I have to wonder if they truly don’t have an answer this year. That said as someone who is not assuming anything nor taking anything for granted as to how the rest of the season will go, including tomorrow when I am not assuming this is Max’s race to lose, for that is what Merc have earned over the last 7 years. But geez…this is really surprising and disappointing coming from TW.

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      26th June 2021, 22:28

      @robbie What surprises me after all these years of Toto stating it’s for the competition to ‘work harder’ in the interest of making F1 more interesting, and Lewis’s frequent comments about wanting competition is how much they seem to be feeling the pressure and losing their cool. Whining about flexi wings and stuff like this just seems childish almost, no wonder Horner is looking so smug. It’s not a position we’ve seen Mercedes in before and they certainly seem to be ruffled.

      Easy to say from my armchair but surely better to stay cool calm and collected, admit there’s work to do but it’s a long season and it’s a close battle. This says to me, as you’ve mentioned they are struggling for answers.

  12. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    26th June 2021, 19:12

    They seem to be embarrassing themselves. They said for years the other teams need to work harder to beat them, now it’s happening it’s all flexible wings and secret engine upgrades. Lewis always said he wanted some competition but since he’s got it he’s done nothing but whine and accuse.

    1. Spot on

      Reply moderated
  13. It’s interesting to note that even the usual Mercedes apologists are steering clear of this one because it’s getting pretty pretty indefensible at this point.

    1. Well… it’s as bad as Horner and Marko have been over the years. Actually…its a fraction of what Horner and Marko have put out there over the years.
      Still not great but some perspective might be necessary here.

  14. It’s always going off. Tensions.

  15. They are just doing what Horner has been doing for years.

    1. @emu55
      I think they re quite late to respond to Horner’s Redbul’s never ending complaints/requests/whines

      Horner is the definition of a snake himself. they protested complained even before seasons started in the past.
      They are quite the clever team and their cheats usually disguised in plain sight before someone figure that out.
      They were the masters of front wing flex cheat (people say, they past the test didnt they?, well you can pass a test while cheating, that doesnt make it right becuase u re not caught!)
      They are the rear wing flex master now.
      I am 100% sure redbul caught mercedes’ aero weakness from one of hamilton incidents where he lost leading edge of the rear floor, and he dropped in performance quite significantly (2tenths per lap, if memory serves right), floor changes effected the mercedes the most is no surprise!

      Redbul complained on all mercedes innovations. wheel cooling, got it banned, tyre heat up, got it banned (at least from this year on) Froze the engines, (thanx to honda excuse, and noone willing to supply them new ones, they hit 2 birds with one stone, while threatening to quit)

      But the season is not over, and i m sure mercedes while looking like in murky waters, have something cooking soon enough.

      1. But the season is not over,

        No, you have to swallow a lot more…

        1. Hehehehe let’s see sunshine. 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

  16. “I’m really surprised that the Red Bull guys keep protesting so loudly on the power unit story,” he added. “So that is a bit weird.” The rules are very clear,” Wolff continued. “It’s homologated, you can come up with reliability fixes and that’s it.

    So it wasn’t the ridiculous story made up by Hamilton, but the reaction to it that was the surprising part? Wolff is beginning to lose it as that’s not even basic logic. Maybe it’s him that should look at retirement. He seems stressed out.

  17. Toto won’t stop commenting and drawing attention to competitors developments, its his job to do that same as any other team boss.

  18. Glorified Paddy Lowe should sit down
    It’s easy to lead a team already assembled for you by one of the greatest TP of all time, with a locked in headstart

  19. Red Bull wanted Mercedes PU’s a few years back. Toto said no. Honda did a good job. Now Toto is confused. A bit sad. I like mr Wolff btw.

  20. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    27th June 2021, 1:19

    Why do we constantly have to hear from Toto Wolff? I swear we hear more from him than we do some of the drivers. He gets interviewed in the media all the time, talks to them all the time, is on Sky literally all the time.

    As for Red Bull defending their power unit, how can he find it strange when HE and HIS DRIVER are the ones making those accusations? The gaslighting is too much.

  21. Cristiano Ferreira
    27th June 2021, 2:18

    Bunch of hypocrites… Mercedes, Toto and Hamilton, all of them.

    It seems its time to go for them, like Mercedes always does as a team when things dont go their way. The sport as a whole will be better without all of them.

    1. One quick question: Who is the bigger noob? Mercedes or Ferrari?

  22. Ahah, you probably heard of this also in the english coverage, but in the italian one when horner was interviewed post qualifying about all these new rules such as a pit stop one he said: yeah, soon we’re gonna have a rule for when I can go to the bathroom!

    1. Which is quite his level. And at Sky DE they kept sucking up to Red Bull asking them ‘so these endless rule changes how unfair is it and is Mercedes whining’ which shows how much that company has a policy of making it about the ‘national’ driver/team (though odly Merc. is really a German team w. an Austrian team boss, but they just like RTL never really gave up on the relations they built with Red Bull when Vettel was there), but it has little to do with being a rational unbiased reporter.

      It is little different from the sad level of many comments on this page who seem to take it personal that Horner and Wolff seem to be egging each other on (I really personally dislike this stuff; just get on with the racing, they all have been doing this stuff for ever and none of it rises to the level of the Ferrari PU deal with the FIA).

      At least Sky UK has Di Resta to be biased against HAM/Merc and towards Red Bull/VER; Well, makes it easier to just watch the sessions only. With so many races it is good to save some time.

  23. Why does not the FIA warn Mercedes for continuously, publically discrediting their rivals, the rules and the sport?

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