After Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from qualifying last time out in São Paulo, because of an irregularity in his DRS system, Red Bull started to raise questions about the legality of the wings on the black arrows, suspecting it flexes in high speeds to give a reduction in drag and therefore a straight-line speed advantage. As the race day unfolded in Interlagos, it was an on-track incident on lap 48, between the two championship protagonists, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, that raised some eyebrows. As the FIA deemed, at the time, no investigation was necessary and the race carried on as normal.
However, on Tuesday Mercedes lodged a request for a Right of Review, after new evidence in the form of the forward-facing camera on Verstappen’s car. All this movement off-track has led to increasing tension between the two teams.
Speaking on the FIA Press Conference after FP1 in Losail, still yet to know the outcome of the team’s request, Wolff explained why he and his team felt so strongly about the subject, mentioning they didn’t expect to “gain anything”, and was more about future battles on track:
"We don’t expect to gain anything, to be honest, on the right of review. It’s more about the principle and the philosophy. Because, if it stays that way, that means overtaking from the outside is pretty much not possible anymore, because the [car on the] inside controls the corner completely. That is anyway the case, but as it was before, when a car is next to you, you need to leave a car’s width, and that wasn’t the case [in Brazil]."
As it was, that request was thrown out by the stewards.
Another topic of discussion was the alleged breach of regulations of the rear wing of Hamilton’s W12 in Brazil. Wolff explains what caused the issue, and how it didn’t give Hamilton any advantage:
"We got the rear wing back. And as we thought it was broken, it broke in qualifying, we didn't pass the 85mm slot gap test on the far right side, we passed it on the left, in the middle, but not on the right, by a fraction of a millimetre. And that's fine.
"We weren't allowed to inspect it, nor to make the argument that the part is being broken. And consequently, we found out that two screws became undone in qualifying. And that caused that right side to be irregular.
"And you know, probably it was even detrimental to the lap time, but it is what it is. It was reported to the stewards, that is very different to how these things were handled in the past, but you will be able to patch up things that got broken during parc fermé.”
Asked about Christian Horner’s remarks raising doubts over the legality and conformity with the rules of the Mercedes, Wolff dismissed it, saying "nobody would show up with an illegal engine or an illegal rear wing", mentioning the importance of how the team and the brand is seen by the world:
"I think that nobody would show up at the track with an illegal engine or an illegal rear wing. The world is too transparent for that. And you would be mad if you take decisions in a team with such a high visibility that are illegal, 100%.
"I think we've been controlled 14 times on this very particular wing, 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, we can send you one to Milton Keynes," he concluded.