“Started Making Noise”- Newey Reveals How Mercedes Really ‘Hurt’ Red Bull F1

Published 08/08/2021, 7:23 AM EDT
MONTMELO, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 20: Adrian Newey, the Chief Technical Officer of Red Bull Racing looks on in the garage during day three of F1 Winter Testing at Circuit de Catalunya on February 20, 2019 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)


Red Bull has had its fair share of expenditures this season and the budget cap hasn’t helped. The team has had a mangled car to fix, necessary engine upgrades, and then the controversy of the infamous Flexi-wing. Brought into the spotlight by Lewis Hamilton after the Spanish GP; the “bendy wing on the back of their car” had given Red Bull an advantage on the straights.

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Red Bull’s CTO, Adrian Newey, looked back on the turbulent first half. He analyzed the controversy surrounding the Flexi-wing and expanded on it. While teams like Alfa Romeo and Ferrari were also using the technology, Newey states Mercedes only focused on the alleged benefit Red Bull gained.

Formula One F1 – Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – July 2, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen during practice REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

“We certainly weren’t the only team to have that issue but of course, when Mercedes started making noise about it… they were only worried about whether we were getting a benefit, which we really weren’t.” The genesis of troubles began between the two teams this season. The Flexi-wings controversy caused a lot of trouble between the two team bosses.

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Newey also elucidated the impact of the protests on Red Bull’s pockets. ” There was a cost implication to changing that part which obviously hurt.” The new directive by the FIA caused many teams to stabilize their wings after the Azerbaijan GP, ahead of Paul Ricard.

What are Flexi-wings?

The technical regulations of the FIA state that components that affect the aerodynamics of the car must be “rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car” and “remain immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car.” This means that besides DRS, the front and rear wings cannot move. To enforce this, the FIA puts the cars through a deflection test, which no team has failed to date.

The Flexi-wings basically reduce drag, which increases the speed. This is beneficial in the faster sections of the circuit. The FIA discourages the use of such bendy parts as a safety regulation.

Watch this story: Lewis Hamilton’s Incredible Car Collection

Why was Red Bull scrutinized?

Christian Horner, who fought hard for keeping the part, did not welcome the mid-season design change. Making the wing more rigid also meant spending more under the cost cap.

Horner had argued that infinite rigidness was a delusion. ” To think that everybody’s aerodynamic surface was completely rigid would be a fallacy. On every single car on the grid, it’s just not the case. You can visibly see that.”

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Formula One F1 – Spanish Grand Prix – Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain – May 9, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during the race REUTERS/Albert Gea

Red Bull also argued that the Mercedes car’s front wing moved, but nobody wanted to look into that. ” Look at some footage from Imola at the front of our competitor’s car and it will show you very clearly flexible aerodynamics which, as we know, the front wing is a far more sensitive part of the car than the rear of the car, so you pick on one part of the car and inevitably that is just going to move around.”

Formula One F1 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy – April 18, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action during the race REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

Regardless, Adrian Newey believes that the controversy only highlighted the resilience of the Milton Keynes team. “It is, however, a great testament to the depth of our team that we can respond to changes and is a great example of when our team is put in a corner we can come out fighting and continue to be just as competitive.”

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The war between the Silver Arrows and the charging Bulls dominated the first half of the season. With the season’s resumption looming, undoubtedly the swords will be drawn again.

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Shreya Sanjeev

323 articles

Shreya Sanjeev is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having attained a journalism degree from St Xavier's College, she finds comfort in the sound of her keyboard while typing and excitement in the sound of F1 cars speeding on a track. A street circuit and Daniel Ricciardo fan through and through, Shreya claims the 2018 Monaco GP to be one of her favorite races of all time.

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