Helmut Marko has Mercedes suspicion and warns Max Verstappen he can’t lose Saudi Arabia GP

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Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko believes Mercedes have changed their rear wing at the Qatar Grand Prix, after no longer having a “superior speed” in Doha. Red Bull have been furiously investigating the legality of Mercedes’ rear wing, with Max Verstappen even picking up a hefty fine for touching it in parc ferme, which is strictly prohibited.

According to Red Bull, the supporting surface of Mercedes’ rear wing is moving when travelling down the straights at high speeds on the track, reducing the drag on the W12, making the car faster.

Mercedes have dismissed any claims their car is illegal, however, the FIA announced a new rear wing test at the event for all cars, which the seven-time champions passed.

Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, had spoken across the weekend about how it works is “hidden” and is harder to spot on camera, with the team even releasing an image to the public to try to prove their point.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 Horner said: “The grey shadow area is where that lower part of the wing is what we call fretting against, it’s where it has backed off, where it has moved and flexed.

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According to Red Bull, the supporting surface of Mercedes’ rear wing is moving when travelling down the straights at high speeds on the track, reducing the drag on the W12, making the car faster.

Mercedes have dismissed any claims their car is illegal, however, the FIA announced a new rear wing test at the event for all cars, which the seven-time champions passed.

Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, had spoken across the weekend about how it works is “hidden” and is harder to spot on camera, with the team even releasing an image to the public to try to prove their point.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 Horner said: “The grey shadow area is where that lower part of the wing is what we call fretting against, it’s where it has backed off, where it has moved and flexed.

“We have numerous pictures from each of the recent Grand Prix that you can see this has been happening, and that’s what our concern has been.”

The initial tests were set to be carried out after Saturday’s qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix, with the race running as normal on Sunday.

Yet despite Mercedes reiterating nothing was wrong with their rear wing, Marko had his suspicions.

“Mercedes have slowed down over the course of the practice sessions here and this is due to the fact that they used a rear wing that was no longer bendable, as their top speed was in the normal range,” he told Sky Germany.

“I assume they will not use it again either as the FIA has the tools to check this. I can’t see them taking that risk.”

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“We have numerous pictures from each of the recent Grand Prix that you can see this has been happening, and that’s what our concern has been.”

The initial tests were set to be carried out after Saturday’s qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix, with the race running as normal on Sunday.

Yet despite Mercedes reiterating nothing was wrong with their rear wing, Marko had his suspicions.

“Mercedes have slowed down over the course of the practice sessions here and this is due to the fact that they used a rear wing that was no longer bendable, as their top speed was in the normal range,” he told Sky Germany.

“I assume they will not use it again either as the FIA has the tools to check this. I can’t see them taking that risk.”

Honing in on the same point in a separate interview with Servus TV, he added: “Mercedes is no longer superior in top speed. I assume this was because they changed a wing part.”

Honing in on the same point in a separate interview with Servus TV, he added: “Mercedes is no longer superior in top speed. I assume this was because they changed a wing part.”

Red Bull and Verstappen had a mixed-up weekend after the Dutchman was relegated to seventh after ignoring double-waved yellow flags during qualifying.

It meant Hamilton, who started on pole, was able to cut Verstappen’s lead to eight points with victory in Qatar.

“We did optimal damage limitation,” Marko added. “We played it safe in the race, whenever Max attacked, Lewis countered.

“Max had to put more strain on the tyres during his chase and also had a little damage to the wing. It was nothing serious.

“Now we didn’t finish at the front here, so we have to win in Saudi Arabia. Then it will be about the final race to decide.”

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