The wear marks that could change the Formula One title race: Red Bull claims it is a tell-tale sign of an ILLEGAL deception to give Lewis Hamilton extra pace in his battle with Max Verstappen, but Mercedes denies wrongdoing.
A rejected protest. One more likely entry. Two team managers three feet apart but separated by a chasm. Flying spikes. Welcome back to the most contentious world championship fight in recent times.
First, the news that was pending the night before: would Max Verstappen be penalized for driving as hard as teak in his dispute with Lewis Hamilton for the lead in Brazil a week ago?
The commissioners, acting so arthritic that they risked giving the VAR a good name, made the decision on the sixth day not to reopen the matter. To be fair, his reason for being was clear and correct.
Red Bull has voiced its suspicions about Lewis Hamiliton’s rear wing amid a frantic title fight.
Max Verstappen was fined £ 43,000 for touching Hamilton’s rear wing at the Brazilian Grand Prix
Red Bull boss Christian Horner is trying to find answers about Mercedes’ new found speed
They decided that the onboard images provided by Mercedes met three of the four necessary criteria: it was new; not available at that time; relevant; but not “significant”. Case ruled out, the fear that Pandora’s Box would be opened was avoided.
So, heading into the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix, Hamilton is 14 points behind the 24-year-old Red Bull driver.
News of the verdict came as Mercedes’ Toto Wolff and Red Bull’s Christian Horner went wheel-to-wheel at the press conference, where Horner stated that his suspicions about Hamilton’s car could lead the team to protest.
In layman’s terms, Horner complains of wear marks on the end plates allegedly caused by imperceptible flexing of the wing under load, giving the defending champion some of the extra pace that led to his extraordinary victory in Sao Paulo.
Max Verstappen (left) has survived an appeal by Mercedes for a review regarding his defensive driving with Lewis Hamilton (right) at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix last Sunday.
‘Would you protest?’ Horner said. “Yes, absolutely, if I think the car does not meet the requirements.” The Mercedes straight line speeds that we have seen in Mexico and Brazil … everyone could see that Brazil was not a normal situation.
‘Yes, a new Mercedes engine comes with a higher performance. But when you have a 27 km / h difference and you see marks on the rear end plates that have been being marked by the wings that have been flexing …
‘It is very clear to us what has been happening. It is up to the FIA to make sure the cars are compliant. If they are not, you protest.
Verstappen pushed Hamilton off the track, but Red Bull escaped any punishment
Wolff replied: ‘We have been checked 14 times on this particular wing. The FIA has all the drawings. Red Bull can’t expect anything. No one would show up on the track with an illegal engine or an illegal rear wing. The world is too transparent for that. ‘
Fifteen minutes before the second practice, Horner spoke quickly with FIA Secretary General Peter Bayer. One imagines that they were talking about something other than the weather.
Back to the press conference that can be filed under an ‘n’ for niggly. Horner took more bites. Wolff bit his lip.
Is there any respect left between the couple?
Horner: ‘There is no relationship. There is competition. We have worked hard to get to this position. This is the first time they have been challenged and it is interesting to see how people react.
Mercedes has called for a new review after on-board footage emerged of the incident in which Verstappen forced his Mercedes rival off the track at Interlagos.
‘Relationships and respect are different. There is respect for everything that Mercedes has done, everything that Lewis Hamilton has done. But I don’t need to go to dinner with Toto. I don’t need to kiss her ass. There are a few other team managers who could do it.
‘Am I going to spend Christmas with Toto? Probably not.’ Turning to the Austrian who called out a pantomime lady a few weeks ago, Horner said: ‘Unless you’re in the pantom this year. I could take the children.
Wolff’s take on relationships? “Olympic boxing moved on to professional boxing and now it’s MMA,” he said, trying to characterize the increasing intensity with three rounds remaining.
“The competition is too high. You can’t expect to go out to dinner with a rival, regardless of the personalities involved. Nothing else would be normal. It’s as simple as that ‘.
For the record, Hamilton was fourth fastest in both practice sessions yesterday; Verstappen first and third. It meant little, less than some of the words, in fact.