Jenson Button has a simple theory as to why Red Bull haven’t protested Mercedes’ wings yet: he doesn’t think they yet know what exact element they’d be protesting.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and his staff have been trying to get to the bottom of how Mercedes have managed to gain a significant advantage in a straight line in recent races – and he believes an illegal rear wing could be behind it, and confirmed Red Bull would lodge a protest if that same wing from Brazil is used again.
Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff said in response that he believes every element on his team’s cars is legal, when the two team bosses were sat next to each other in a pre-race press conference in Qatar.
But 2009 World Champion Button feels that the reason Red Bull haven’t already gone to the FIA with a protest is they simply haven’t managed to pin down what exact part of Mercedes’ “very clever” design contravenes the rules.
Christian Horner has quizzed Toto Wolff on the “score marks” seen on Mercedes’ rear wing endplates as the threat of a protest continues to loom.https://t.co/064agtDPTt #QatarGP 🇶🇦 #F1 pic.twitter.com/K2lZ0amAmV
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) November 19, 2021
“I don’t think they know what Mercedes are doing,” Button said while on punditry duties with Sky F1.
“I think it’s very clever what Mercedes is doing because they have picked up a lot of straight-line speed, and you don’t get that by horsepower – unless it’s 50 horsepower.
“So it’s very clever, and I think Mercedes have got one over on Red Bull. Red Bull are normally very good at understanding flexi parts of the car – especially at the front of the floor, I remember, from when I was racing against the Red Bulls back in the day.”
Damon Hill added that he understands why Red Bull would feel the need to line up some kind of protest against their rivals, but the 1996 World Champion also thinks that they need to “put their money where their mouth is” soon, if they are to officially query the legality of the W12.
“It’s understandable, but I think you can’t keep making accusations without finally sort of putting up or shutting up,” he said.
“If they lose here, I think they’re going to have to put their money where their mouth is and say to the FIA, ‘we’re going to protest’ – if they really are that unhappy.”
Red Bull suffered rear wing issues of their own during FP2 on Friday, with slow-motion replays highlighting the DRS flap oscillating at high speed, but Max Verstappen ranked first and third respectively in the first two free practice sessions in Qatar.