Marko: Wolff "should look at his front wings" amid protest threat

Helmut Marko has warned Mercedes chief Toto Wolff that he should “look at his front wings” as Formula 1 heads for possible protests in Baku over flexi-wings.

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F1 teams have been engaged in debate over the stability of rear wings since the Spanish Grand Prix, when Lewis Hamilton passed comment about Red Bull running a “bendy wing”.

The FIA has since moved to clamp down on the flexi-wings by introducing new rigidity tests that will come into force from the French Grand Prix. 

But Mercedes and McLaren were left unhappy that the FIA had not introduced the tests sooner, meaning teams such as Red Bull, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo could still take advantage of the rule loophole in Azerbaijan next week.

Mercedes team principal Wolff warned in Monaco that F1 was heading for a “very messy” situation if the FIA did not issue clarification before the Baku weekend, indicating the case could lead to a protest. 

But Red Bull advisor Marko felt the FIA had made it clear when the new tests would come into force, and indicated Red Bull may look to counter-protest Mercedes over the flexibility of its front wing.

“We find this a bit strange,” Marko said in an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com's sister publication Formel1.de.

“The FIA has decided that the rules for the test, especially for the torsion resistance, will be changed. This will apply from Paul Ricard onwards. That is a very clear statement and regulation. 

“If Mr Wolff thinks that is too late for him - in my opinion, it is still the FIA that determines the procedure. If he does that [protest], he is free to do so.

“But I think he should also look at his front wings. Because on ServusTV and also on Sky, there was a recording where you saw how drastically this front wing approaches the ground.”

Asked if Red Bull could protest against Mercedes’ front wing, Marko said: “Right.”

Helmut Marko, Consultant, Red Bull Racing, Toto Wolff, Executive Director Mercedes AMG F1

Helmut Marko, Consultant, Red Bull Racing, Toto Wolff, Executive Director Mercedes AMG F1

Photo by: Andrew Hone / Motorsport Images

It is not the first time that Red Bull has made reference to the flexibility of the front wing on Mercedes’ W12 F1 car amid the ongoing saga.

Wolff said on Sky Sports last weekend that Mercedes had checked its front wing and found it was “bending exactly the same way as the Red Bull”, and that the teams “could be protesting each other on the front wing also”.

Wolff added: “But it's clear that the rear wing bends more than it should. Under the rules, it has been classified as non conformance.”

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Marko said Red Bull had been forced to make similar changes to its car back in 2012 and 2013 when stricter tests were introduced, but said they were always done in accordance with deadlines.

"We had to make improvements each time,” Marko said. “A deadline was set and we made improvements within this period. That is a normal process.

“At the moment, we are on the road with a legal car. And at Paul Ricard, we will put a corresponding reinforcement on our rear wing.”

Marko did acknowledge that the debate over flexi-wings was “not championship-deciding” in the fight between Red Bull and Mercedes, with the teams separated by just one point at the top of the constructors’ standings.

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