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F1 | Qatar GP | Horner about Mercedes’ pace: “Everybody could see Brazil was not a normal situation”, as he says Red Bull will “absolutely protest” if they see irregularities on the W12

As F1 heads to the heat of Qatar, things keep heating up between the two championship protagonists, Red Bull and Mercedes. Team Principal at Red Bull, Christian Horner is certain that not everything is right with Mercedes’ strong pace lately.

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F1 | Qatar GP | Horner about Mercedes’ pace: “Everybody could see Brazil was not a normal situation”, as he says Red Bull will “absolutely protest” if they see irregularities on the W12
Fuente imagen: Formula1.com

After an intense fight between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at Interlagos last time out, it was an incident on lap 48, when Verstappen pushed Hamilton off the track, that took the main stage on the build-up to the Qatar GP, as Mercedes decided to lodge a request for a Right of Review of the incident, alleging the new evidence was the onboard, forward-facing camera from car #33, which wasn’t available to the stewards when the decision not to investigate the incident further was made.

Speaking in the FIA Press Conference after Friday’s FP1 session in Losail, Horner was unimpressed by the actions taken by his rivals, saying the incident in Interlagos was more "spurious" than when Red Bull asked for a review of the Silverstone fallout between Hamilton and Verstappen:

"I wasn’t really that surprised. Just referring to Toto’s comments there about overtaking on the outside is impossible – I think that Max demonstrated clearly it is [possible], in Mexico into the first turn.

"This right to review, we’ve been through it at Silverstone, where we felt that there were strong circumstances to look at. The consequences of an incident like that were obviously serious – with a retirement, destruction of the car and the loss of an engine, and so on. With this one, it feels a little bit spurious.

"The key questions to ask yourself are: Is it new? Potentially. Is it relevant? One could potentially argue that as well. Is it significant? Absolutely not. There’s been enough camera angles for the stewards to make their decision. We’ve seen numerous incidents, both in the Sprint race and during the grand prix – indeed on the first lap of the grand prix, with Valtteri [Bottas] taking an almost identical line [to Max in turn 4]."

After the press conference ended, it was made public that Mercedes’ request was dismissed by the stewards.

Another hot topic of discussion came up when Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from qualifying for the São Paulo GP, due to an alleged breach of the regulations regarding his DRS system and its maximum opening range of 85mm. An amateur video showed Max Verstappen examining the element on Hamilton’s Mercedes on Friday, after qualifying took place, making it clear Red Bull had some kind of suspicion about the legality of the W12.

Horner explained more of the matter on Friday in Qatar, pointing out what he believes was “not a normal situation” in Brazil:

"A new engine we know with Mercedes comes with increased performance. But when you have a 27 kilometre [per hour] difference, and you see marks on rear end plates that have been marking up from wings that have been flexing.

"Would I protest? Absolutely. If we believe the car is not in compliance, we will protest. The straight-line speeds that we've seen in Mexico and in Brazil, I mean, I think everybody could see Brazil was not a normal situation.

"If we see [the wing] on the car here, it will be protested.", Horner firmly stated.

As the 2021 F1 championship approaches its climax, Horner says he and Red Bull are only fighting for an “equal playing field”, and believes that his team is on the right side regarding the compliance with the regulations:

"I'm sure Mercedes [have] paid a huge amount of attention to our car through the season, and we are obviously doing the same. And obviously, it's high stakes, there's an awful lot to play for. And as I said, we just want to make sure it's an equal playing field.

"Does our car comply with the rules? Absolutely. Do we have concerns over the gains in straight line speed [at Mercedes] that we've seen since Budapest? But really, they've been exponential in the last couple of races.

"So what we see and the analysis that we've conducted, it really depends what we see. It's not just applied to here, because I think in many respects it's even more pertinent to the two circuits that are coming up.

"We'll follow the situation. It will depend on really what happens this weekend."

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