Mark on Mercedes' rear wing

No “score marks” on our rear wing, Mercedes insist after Red Bull protest threat

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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An alleged feature of Mercedes’ rear wing design, which Red Bull have threatened to protest, does not exist, according to the world champions.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner claimed earlier today the W12’s rear wing features “score marks” which they suspect is linked to Mercedes’ strong straight-line speed in recent races.

“Make no bones about it, if we see it on the car here it will be protested,” Horner said.

Red Bull’s suspicions are believed to concern a discolouration seen on the inside of the rear wing endplate of the W12 next to its lower flap, beneath the DRS-adjustable upper flap (pictured).

Horner described the marks Red Bull has seen on Mercedes’ car during today’s FIA press conference.

“The straight-line speeds that we’ve seen in Mexico and in Brazil – I think everybody could see in Brazil it was not a normal situation. And yes, a new engine, we know with Mercedes, comes with increased performance.

“But when you have a 27kph closing speed and witness marks on rear wing end plates that have been marking up from wings that have been flexing it’s very clear to us what has been going on.”

During today’s FIA press conference Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff told Horner he was mistaken about the marks.

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“I think we’ve been controlled 14 times on this very particular wing,” he said. “The FIA has all drawings about it, there is no such thing as Red Bull expects there to be. So we are happy to send it, cut it, can send you one to Milton Keynes.”

Horner asked Wolff: “How do you explain the score marks on the rear wing end plate?”

“I think it is within what is allowed and therefore that’s okay,” Wolff answered.

Mercedes head of trackside engineering Andrew Shovlin also denied such marks exist. “We’ve had a look at it and there are no score marks,” he told Sky. “So we’re not quite sure what that is, but it seems to be a bit of a story that’s not going away.”

Mercedes have had their car design checked closely and are confident it is legal, said Shovlin.

“From our point of view we’re absolutely happy with what we’ve got on the car,” he said. “We’ve invited the FIA to look at it as much as they want. They don’t have any issue with what we’ve got.

“We go to every circuit, we look at what the fastest wing we have is, and that’s the one that will bolt to the car and that’s what we’ll keep doing.”

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73 comments on “No “score marks” on our rear wing, Mercedes insist after Red Bull protest threat”

  1. There is a score mark:
    Red Bull 1 – Mercedes 0
    Welcome to the this-is-who I-like Masy competition.

    1. RB covers up its score marks with tape. MB should try it.

      1. Perhaps they just took a bit of sandpaper to make the marks and troll Red Bull.
        Seems equally likely.

  2. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    19th November 2021, 17:30

    Can someone explain what score marks are share a picture of them on the wing? Thanks.

    1. I don’t have a picture, but Red Bulls assertion is that the rear wing flap is moving beyond the DRS gap that is allowed, and that the score marks are evidence of it rubbing against the wing endplates as it does so.

      Either this is a load driven effect (i.e. flexy aero) or related to the moving steering column which triggers additional DRS movement beyond the standard mechanism.

      Or just the usual round of mutual protest.

      1. @asleepatthewheel The article has just been updated with a picture.

        1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
          20th November 2021, 3:11

          Thank you @keithcollantine

        2. So there was marks?

        3. @keithcollantine So lower, supposedly fixed, wing is buckling down when DRS is open, making gap bigger than allowed?

      2. Lewis has stated there was play in the steering column of around 1mm. He didn’t like it and the column was changed. There is no push pull on the steering column.

        1. Or is there?

        2. the visible changes of the steering wheel position exceed 1mm significantly, would have to be multiple cm to explain what could be seen

  3. What about the flutter on the Red Bull wings today? That passed the regulations but the gap was open more than 85mm. I have no problem with it if it passes the regs by the way, but if you’re going to say that Mercedes are doing something illegal with bending then protest it
    It feels like Horner is just stirring something up that isn’t there to deflect attention. The ICE was the reason for the speed advantage as Alex Brundle pointed out quite clearly in the comparison with Bottas, also the stalling of the diffuser which is already well known and effective at high downforce tracks at lower altitude.

    Anyway, insert inflammatory comment below!:

    1. How do you know the gap is over 85mm?

      1. I’m referring to the TV footage of the flutter of the rear wing at recent races, including FP1 and FP2 at Qatar. I’m not saying it’s illegal btw. You can find it online.

        1. I’ve seen the video, how do you know it opened over 85mm?

          1. Come on Alan, it’s clearly opening wider than what it should do. Don’t get me on a technicality like Horner please!! No I didn’t measure it on YouTube, of course not.


            it clearly isnt opening over 85mm, :) it is clearly functioning as a proper wing should, flip flap flip flap non stop. so min 85mm, max is the sky limit applies for REDBUL everyone else it is 85 mm and not a 0.2mm gap is allowed!

            if redbul isnt DSQ from quali about this, even god wont stop them from winning the wdc…

        2. It’s not ‘clear’, it’s just conjecture. The sport is literally about technicalities, so not sure what you’re complaining about.

          1. It really isn’t conjecture. Sorry Alan. It clearly opens more than usual, what video are you watching exactly!? I’m also saying it’s legal, but I’m complaining about Horner deflecting attention without actually making a protest, that. That’s what I’m complaining about. You will find that in my initial comment above.

        3. If it opens more than 85mm it’s not legal. People have made a mistake with bodywork deflection in thinking it’s the same kind of thing by saying “if it passes the test it’s legal”. That’s true. But the difference is the rules don’t prohibit wing deflection explicitly. So wings deflecting on track aren’t illegal. However, if the gap is more than 85mm/15mm on track, then it is illegal. Proving it though is incredibly complex thing to do.

          I’ve seen the video, but I don’t measure things by what I see on a TV. You can’t say “it’s more than 85mm” because you’ve got no possible way to know how big that gap is.

          1. How do you know it’s been tested?

    2. someone or something
      19th November 2021, 18:16

      A whataboutism that literally starts with “What about”. Gotta say, I cringed a little.

      1. It’s in reference to the red bull accusation but no protest though, so it’s not actually a case of whataboutism at all.

        1. John, what if the wing opens to let’s say 82mm without the flutter and with it it jumps up&down by 3 extra mm?
          come on mate, this is a discussion not based on any facts at all.

          1. milansson, why would Red Bull choose not to have the DRS open to 85mm, and thus intentionally sacrifice some of the benefits of having DRS in the first place?

          2. I could fly to Qatar and try and measure it myself it that would make you all happy. If gt-racer is out there and can give me a paddock pass I’ll happily go and measure it just to back up my scientific analysis.

          3. @John H just admit that Hill’s commentary hooked you onto the possibility of Red Bull cheating and move on. You’re just embarrassing yourself by continuing this whataboutism and then deflecting criticism

    3. geoffgroom44 (@)
      19th November 2021, 19:15

      I’m with you,John H. The ‘flutter’ deformations in RB rear wing allow for variations in gap.Screen capturing the video and slowing it down helps to view this.This probably explains why RB have been ‘taping cracks’ in recent races.However, I do note in commentaries on F1 at FP2 today that no ex-drivers felt this would be of any significant benefit.
      But it is an interesting freudian mystery:taping,Max touching,more protests.
      Maybe RB are just annoyed that Mercs tail doesn’t crack and flap.
      Flapping seems to be par for the course with CH and Marko,huh?

      1. here is the video.

        red bul will argue it broke, due to flutter or whatever excuse they will come up with. but mercedes one is deemed instantly illegal! did they check any cracks or screws (as per Wollf said)? if they didnt then this is total fallacy! what is there to stop redbul racing an illegal flap and minor crash it at the end to blame it on to a damage if it was checked?

        1. On FIA Formula 1 official Youtube channel, it says Drs have been broken and they needed to fix it
          Officials seem to have been warned

          It’s not the first team neither the first season with DRS break like that.
          There are some failures like that each years since drs introduction.

  4. Is it me or does it seem that Max’s rear wing flutters some times but not other times in the DRS zone.

    1. @jimfromus I thought this also, it seemed very pronounced going into turn 1 at Interlagos, but not so much in Mexico. I can’t imagine it’s very beneficial going into a braking zone, how quickly does ‘air’ reattach? It seemed more of a quirk than anything else. Obviously both teams feel there is an advantage with playing with rear wings at this point in the season.

      1. I was wondering a similar thing, it might help improve air flow separation, a bit like the dimples on a golf ball (different I know).

  5. RandomMallard (@)
    19th November 2021, 18:11

    Tbh I just give up with both of these teams now.

    Formula 1.5 it is for me

    1. someone or something
      19th November 2021, 18:17

      First time? There’s just no silver lining with these two.

    2. Good thinking. I have done that the last 5 years; pretent there is no Mercedes team and then F1 is actually nice to watch, exciting, suspense.. its got everything. This season you could do Mercedes plus Max to achieve the same

  6. Good lord if that’s a mark from the main plane bending backwards touching the end plate it would be more obvious that RBRs wing flapping like a humingbird down the straight.

    1. Apparently that isn’t obvious judging by the comments above.

      1. how do you come up with hummingbird? it was more like eagle flap, due to wing span :) hummingbird flap would disintegrate that in an instant, they tune it like real big bird wings would! unless you focus on a redbul, it was not that obvious to be honest :) you know horner likes to deflect rather than focus

      2. also their bottom flap was fluttering… one strange thing was on the rear right (in the video as you watch rear left side), there is another (third, middle) flap like piece? what is that?

      3. Jokes aside they have had this issue for three races now and it’s obviously a problem not a design. Because they are furiously trying to fix it. If that chicken wire and tape fail at 320 kph it will be a problem.

        1. @dmw what makes you think it is a joke? seriously, mercedes fails by 0.2mm, it is a “definite cheat and by design” but redbul fail much miserably and it is just a plain problem and not by design… redbul are the pioneer of cheating on aero elastic designs. even found with hidden plates do special flexing at certain speeds… what makes you think they are not trying something and not perfected it yet, and keep playing the innocent “oops it just failed” card, when it suits them but everyone else plain cheaters… max oops it was hard racing… ham’s car definitely 1000% designed to cheat, ham if he touches max, def intentional, come one you never put a wheel on the inside when you dont make the apex… sorry to break up the current fake reality to you…

        2. for your joke: 1 failed fine… 2 failed fine, 3rd time is the luck charm? but 4th time in a row? seriously i think they are trying some sort of cheat, and they didnt perfect it yet, and playing innocent until it works as they intended! as intended mean, it will pass the tests required, but will flex and whatever they are designed to do at speeds.

        3. @dmw you should make that four races in a row that there have been issues, not three.

  7. This is a very tricky one. If the wing is deflecting (which isn’t technically illegal) and it’s opening the DRS gap above 85mm (or 15mm when not DRS), that would land Mercedes in trouble because that’s a hard rule. How one would prove it beyond reasonable doubt would be very difficult though.

  8. So the original wing flexers are complaining Mercedes now do it to well.

    It seems especially DRS is strong with Mercedes.

    Maybe that engine also has some tricks… That wear out after one race.

    Might also be maximizing their low rake setup, which is less draggy by default.

    1. @jureo they’re hardly the original wing flexers – Ferrari were doing it with a beer unsafe looking rear wing in the late 90s, which led to the FIA introducing the different load tests. Essentially they’re rear wing support struts were made flexible so the whole assembly was forced to tilt backwards at high speed – it’s actually quite an elegant solution but failure would be catastrophic in a fast corner.

      1. And now it seems Mercedes made wings so flexible, they pass load tests and still flex a lot. At high speed, potentially flex more when DRS is activated.

        Illegal or legal, certainly it works and is quite brilliant.

  9. One thing’s for sure, both these Principals have ruined an otherwise stellar season with all this crying. Mercs cry because they weren’t used to these levels of competition for a complete season in recent years. RBR cry because they now know what a relentless competitor Mercs are.

    1. Clearly forgot about Senna accusing Benetton of having TC and teams moaning about the Brabham fan car. etc… etc…

      Protests and counter protests are as old as the sport itself.

      1. geoffgroom44 (@)
        19th November 2021, 19:17


      2. You mean the tc doesn’t that they did have?

      3. Alan Dove

        Benetton’s car was found with the TC hidden in a menu (entered by special sequence of key presses i think)… problem with FIA, as always, they couldnt prove it was ever used… it was just a forgotten feature never to be used to begin with… it was innocent…

        1. @mysticus the thing is, that also applies to several other teams on the grid as well – for example, at the very first race of the season, Ron Dennis used the same defence as Benetton did when queried about why there was code for traction control on McLaren’s ECU (which was that the late rule changes didn’t give them enough time to completely rewrite their code, so they just disarmed the code for traction control and left it there).

          1. @anon, you are right, but I m sure senna may know about TC and how it works and must have seen the car’s driving pattern to come to conclusion. I m not eliminating the benefit of the doubt but remember redbull were suspected of having some sort of clever TC system as well if memory serves right. Was it vettel or web’s car was leaving strange lines akin to some sort of TC system that was cutting power wen it saw spin/over rotation. Then the front wing flex that got a device hidden inside and they argued it was for bla bla bla… So I don’t believe they were innocent but I can’t really trust FIA either for their conclusions after so many bad one sided decisions they have made over the years. Esp against Hamilton. So yeah I m a bit biased seeing all the rubbish they have been doing lately.

    2. What you need to do is… Not read Wolff and Horner comments after, before and during races.

      They are doing their job, extending the fight for the championship beyond racing.

      All their comments should be absorbed with that in mind.

  10. Looking at the supposd score mark and my understanding of how the wing works, the wing must have flipped over and producing more and and reverse downforce (lift) for it to leave a mark at that region.
    It is the upper plane that is activated, or am I missing something.

    1. From the picture (and text) it seems that the fixed lower flap is flattening quite a bit at the end.
      I guess that the connection to the end plate is not continuous, and stops some 5-10cm before the end (the bendy bit).

      This should be quite visible via the rearview camera I’d say.

      If the flap is strong enough to withstand the 85mm test, but flexible enough to flatten at high speed then I’m not even sure how (il)legal this is.
      But if you sail that close to the wind it is understandable that you once in a while fail the 85mm test.

      1. It would be running in an illegal condition if wider than 85mm, thus illegal. It’s not like wing deflection which isn’t explicitly banned. The gap regulation states a clear figure in comparison.

        3.4.3 states “….Furthermore, the distance between adjacent sections at any longitudinal vertical plane must
        lie between 10mm and 15mm at their closest position, except, in accordance with Article
        3.6.8, when this distance must lie between 10mm and 85mm when the DRS system is

        The problem is enforcement. This would be a very very hard case to prove. All that could happen is a load test on the lower section of the wing.

      2. The end plates also vibrate and flex perhaps tiny tear is to dampen such vibrations ie, allow some yield to reduce oscillation.

  11. Horner should insist the FIA increase the static load test on the rear wing. He may also have to insist they have 3 races to fix any wing that may fail the new test.

    Redbull are the masters of flexi/ bendy/ flappy wings but I think Newey has got his latest iteration ( I call it the ornithopter) badly wrong.

  12. Well done the Racefans team for finding the pic.

    Surely the only logical explanation is the score marks have been caused by the lower plane flexing and reclining back when it’s under load. It would no doubt pass all the load tests in parc ferme but is it legal?

    1. The flexing isn’t a problem in terms of legality currently (of course FIA reserves right to introduce new loading tests). The issue would be if the flexing expands the gap where there is a clearly defined limit of 85mm (drs open) and whatever it is closed (15mm) – 3.4.3.

      In my view it’d be a case of running the car in a non-compliant condition. Proving that though… would be very tricky.

    2. Is that the only logical explanation? any one can see that is some kind of scratch. Not a wear mark caused by two surfaces rubbing repeatedly over time. Also it’s straight. This is now Jesus appearing on grilled cheese level crazy. People see whatever affirms their beliefs.

  13. Red Bull covers up its score marks with tape. MB should try it.

  14. Anyone claiming that aero components are supposed to be 100% rigid is either stupid or malicious, or both.

    1. No one is saying this component has to be 100% rigid. Bodywork deflection is allowed for within the regulations.

      It can’t, however, be allowed to flex in a way that would make the gap between the lower and upper sections of the wing beyond what’s defined in 3.4.3 of the F1 Technical Regulations.

  15. Mercedes is the new Ferrari. Just as cheaty, just as non transparent, just as much lying, just as not fitting this day & age. Luckily the new gen of drivers seem to have a more nowadays attitude, so I hope that if the old ones are gone we will get a sport to watch rather than a spoiled kids political playground. Old hierarchical institutes… would love to block factory teams from participating. Let them merely deliver an engine please.

    1. You is in pain, bruh, init? I feel, I feel.

    2. Why don’t you build your own engines as well?

  16. What am I supposed to be seeing? I see the circle, I see inside the circle, I’ve read the article, I understand what a score mark is, but I’m still not sure what I’m supposed to be looking at…

  17. Enough hot air been blown over this Whine gate saga than the jab no jab bs.
    Did nearly do myself a damage laughing so hard at the renaming caper.
    Karen Horner & his pet Vera Slappy!

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