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Start French GP
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Mercedes

How the new wing flex rules could actually save Mercedes time

Toto Wolff admits that Mercedes, unlike Red Bull for example, can make their rear wing more flexible after the introduction of the new rules that will come into force after the race weekend in Baku.

Article
To news overview © Mercedes

Mercedes and all of their customer teams are not affected by the rule changes that will apply in Formula 1 from 15 June, we are led to believe when we take a tour of the grid.

Lewis Hamilton's team were the ones that started the ball rolling. By their own admission, they did so last year.

"In the summer of 2020 we already pointed out to the FIA the situation regarding the flexible rear wing. At the time we did not receive any feedback on that," Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff told RacingNews365.com and others.

"I do understand the frustration of some teams. This should have been dealt with much earlier, before tinkering with the concept of this year's cars."

McLaren, Mercedes' customer team, are also unhappy with the situation, they previously hinted. Team boss Andreas Seidl does not want to talk about a possible protest, but the British squad are in talks with the FIA.

"McLaren is independent of Mercedes and their actions. We are currently in direct contact with the FIA about the problem with the flexible rear wings."

It is particularly a thorn in the side of the Woking-based team that Red Bull and other teams can still use the rear wings in Baku before the new rules really have to be met on 15 June (with a 20 percent margin) and eventually 15 July.

"We are absolutely not happy with that, that cars that in our opinion do not comply with the rules, even after it has been noticed, are still allowed to drive with this rear wing. That is why we are in discussion with the FIA, from there we will see what happens in Baku."

Aston Martin, another Mercedes customer, are also speaking out against the rear wing and say they do not need to make any changes themselves.

"We passed the tests with flying colours, our rear wing is very rigid," said team boss Otmar Szafnauer, who believes the teams can design a new rear wing in no time.

The last Mercedes customer team, Williams, also say they will not be affected by the new rules. "Every team has to look carefully at its front wing," says new Williams CEO Jost Capito. "For us it has no effect, but maybe in the run-up to the season we didn't make the most of the rules."

Of the six non-Mercedes teams, Red Bull, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Alpine have already hinted they will be affected by the rule changes, while Haas boss Guenther Steiner admits his team do not have a flexible wing.

AlphaTauri have not yet commented on the matter but, as they work closely with Red Bull, it is safe to assume that their rear wing will also need to be changed.

As the icing on the cake for Mercedes - who will see their major rival lose time from the French Grand Prix - the team of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are gaining time, according to team boss Wolff himself.

"We as Mercedes will also adapt our rear wing due to the rule changes. We can even make our rear wing 'softer'. Our rear wing is currently extremely rigid and in accordance with the famous article 3.8 in the technical rulebook, which stipulates that aerodynamic parts must not move.

"The new test that will be introduced soon to measure the flexibility of the rear wing is a half-baked solution, which opens up the possibility for Mercedes to soften the wing. This will allow our rear wing to be more flexible and bend more in the future."

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