Christian Horner demands urgent answers as to how Mercedes was able to quickly adapt a second-floor stay to its car before the Canadian Grand Prix, questioning whether the world champions were aware of the FIA technical guideline in advance to help teams overcome bounce problems. their cars.
Mercedes was the only team to introduce an additional stay – a measure designed to help harden the lightweight floor, and specifically allowed in the aftermath of the directive – to test the solution in George Russell’s car in free practice. They eventually decided not to use it in the race, but it was even more competitive, with Lewis Hamilton describing his car as “unmanageable” last Friday until he finished third in Montreal 48 hours later.
“What was particularly frustrating was the second stay,” said Horner, Red Bull’s chief executive. “It has to be discussed in a technical forum, and this is openly biased in resolving the problems of a group – the only group that came here with it, even before the technical directive. So it worked. “
Horner’s comments mark the latest escalation of a furious controversy over Mercedes battles with bounces and seals. In a heated meeting in Canada, Ferrari’s Horner and Mattia Binotto reportedly told Toto Wolff that he was exaggerating the issue in an effort to force FIA intervention. This provoked a fierce rebuke from Wolff, who claimed that his opposite numbers did not pay enough attention to the driver’s safety and instead resorted to “Chinese whispers” and “miserable” political games. He later apologized to Horner at the Montreal Grid.
But Horner remains adamant that Mercedes’ test of its cars is less about safety than failing to interpret the revised rules this season as effectively as Red Bull. “The problem with Mercedes is more serious, or it certainly was before Canada, than any other car. It definitely depends on the team. It is up to them to deal with it if it does not affect others.
“I know it was said that other drivers have complained. Our drivers never, ever complained about seals. They have said that some circuits could do with the arrangement, maybe even come to the surface in places. But we had no problem with the bounce. “The problem is that Mercedes is running its car so hard.”
There is also concern among Mercedes rivals about Shaila-Ann Rao, who worked for 3½ years as Wolff’s general counsel and special adviser, taking on the role of interim FIA secretary general this month. Rao oversaw last week’s technical instruction to the teams. Binotto described her move from Mercedes to the top of the sporting regulator as “definitely a concern”.
Binotto added: “It is up to them to make sure there will be no conflict of interest, to behave properly.” Wolff, for his part, has validated Rao’s credentials for the job, saying: “He is a lawyer and deals with governance and transparency. That is what he will try to implement and that is good news. “
Horner is particularly upset about the timing of the FIA’s decision to intervene, with its directive issued just as many members of the paddock, including him, were in the air en route to Montreal. “There is a process to introduce these things,” he lamented. “You can not suddenly change the technical regulations in the middle of the season.”