Pictured: The Mercedes F1 rear wing marks behind Red Bull's suspicions

Red Bull has vowed to protest against Mercedes if it continues to run its rear wing from Brazil. We dive into why the team believes the wing's alleged "score marks" point to an outlawed trick by its rival to boost top speeds.

Pictured: The Mercedes F1 rear wing marks behind Red Bull's suspicions

Mercedes and Red Bull continue to provoke one another both on and off the track this season, with the intensity turned up another notch at the Qatar Grand Prix, as Christian Horner threatened to protest his rival's car.

Red Bull has announced its dissatisfaction about the legality of the rear wing on the Mercedes on several occasions now, with the team convinced its bitter rival is gaining an advantage outside the bounds of the regulations.

The score mark image

Its suspicions have been fuelled by images, like below, that show apparent score marks next to the main plane.

These alleged scuff marks may point to the main wing element not being rigid and instead flexing up and down, although they could be something totally unrelated like emulsification caused by a dirty air flow.

Mercedes W12 rear wing detail

Mercedes W12 rear wing detail

Photo by: Uncredited

Red Bull's angst with the situation revved up in Brazil, with Lewis Hamilton able to overcome the penalties that demoted him in both the sprint and Grand Prix.

“The straight-line speeds we’ve seen in Mexico and Brazil – I think everyone could see in Brazil was not a normal situation," said Horner.

"And yes, a new Mercedes engine comes with an increased performance, but when you have a 27 km/h closing speed and you see witness marks on rear wing endplates that have been marking up from wings that have been flexing, it’s very clear to us what has been going on.” 

Undeniably the straight-line speed advantage that Hamilton had at Interlagos was impressive and Mercedes found itself excluded after qualifying for a DRS failure.

However, it’s understood that the effect that Red Bull has concerns over is not in regard to the use of the DRS. Instead it's about the flexibility of the wing's mainplane under normal operating conditions.

Read Also:
Mercedes W12 rear wing gap detail

Mercedes W12 rear wing gap detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull appears to suggest that the trailing edge of the mainplane on the Mercedes W12 flexes at speed to create an opening larger than the regulations permit.

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 deployed.

If this is indeed what’s happening, it would have the benefit of reducing downforce and drag, which would enhance top speed.

In fact, it’s the reason why the slot gap separators were introduced in the mid 2000’s, as teams had started to use aeroelasticity in such a way that they could boost performance by manipulating the gap between wing sections.

The slot gap separators have long been seen as a way of preventing this from occurring as they maintain a gap between the two sections but, if a team could find a way to circumvent this, then of course it could offer a performance advantage.

Red Bull Racing RB16B flecting rear wing
McLaren MCL35M rear wing, Russian GP

As part of the clampdown on flexi-wings earlier in the season, the FIA now also requires the teams to place a series of dots on the rear wing in order that they can be visually monitored for flexion from the onboard cameras (as seen on the McLaren illustration above, with white dots on the mainplane and black dots on the top flap, in their case).

However, it’s understood that Red Bull has argued these are ineffective in this instance as the dots lie ahead of the area in question and the trailing edge of the wing's mainplane is obscured by the top flap when looking at the footage.

During a press conference with Horner and Toto Wolff there was a further exchange, with the former asking "How do you explain the score marks on the rear wing endplate?", to which the latter responded: "I think it's within what is allowed."

As is always the case in these situations, the distinction comes down to whether the wing is legal when it’s being tested.

Currently there isn’t really a test that would check for compliance in this region, other than measuring the size of the gap statically.

Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes head of trackside engineering, quickly hit back whilst being quizzed on the subject:

"Well, we've had a look at it and there are no score marks, so, we're not quite sure what that is, but it seems to be a bit of a story that's not going away," Shovlin told Sky.

"From our point of view, we're absolutely happy with what we've got on the car. 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 and we go to every circuit, we look at what the fastest wing we have is, and that's the one that we'll bolt to the car and that's what we'll keep doing.

"We'll work out what's fastest, we'll stick it on the car and will not take advice from another team."

shares
comments

Related video

Mercedes denies F1 rear wing has score marks
Previous article

Mercedes denies F1 rear wing has score marks

Next article

Horner: Red Bull ready to protest Mercedes F1 rear wing

Horner: Red Bull ready to protest Mercedes F1 rear wing
Load comments
How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay Prime

Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax Prime

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings

Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021