There have been numerous twists and turns in the race for the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship as Red Bull and Mercedes continue to look for every advantage they can get.
From the season-opener, there was talk about how Red Bull's car had excellent straight-line speed, and that particular topic was recently brought back to life – this time at Mercedes.
Technical directives on wings and pit-stops also appear to have come from Red Bull and Mercedes to try and play to their strengths. It's a title fight that quickly turned from a battle into a war.
The topic of flexi-wings became a major talking point during the Spanish Grand Prix when Max Verstappen's rear wing was visibly moving under braking and at the end of the straights to aid top speed and downforce at the right moments.
Mercedes were not happy and even stated that Red Bull could gain up to six-tenths of a second on circuits such as Baku. Red Bull hit back and pointed out that Mercedes' front wing had been flexing with video footage in Portimao and Imola.
Threats of protests from both Mercedes and Red Bull never came to fruition, although it was the first big off-track drama of the season.
It was a controversial topic that came to an end when the FIA issued a new technical directive, which introduced more stringent tests on the front and rear wings from the French Grand Prix onwards.
Aftermath of Silverstone
The clash between Lewis Hamilton and Verstappen at the British GP will likely be remembered for decades. Red Bull were deeply annoyed, even days after the event, with Helmut Marko calling for Hamilton to be suspended.
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff thought it took "two to tango" whilst Red Bull were much more clear on their opinions. It led to a right of review request from Red Bull who simulated Hamilton's part in the collision, believing that he was not going to make the corner.
Red Bull's request did not pay off and instead it led to a damning statement from Mercedes, which said: "We hope that this decision will mark the end of a concerted effort by the senior management of Red Bull Racing to tarnish the good name and sporting integrity of Lewis Hamilton, including in the documents submitted for their unsuccessful right of review."
Verstappen's engine was damaged due to his 51G impact with the barriers, whilst Red Bull's repair bill was estimated to be around £1.3 million. The clash had major implications in the championship and the war of words afterward created huge drama that F1 has not seen for a long time.
Red Bull have set the benchmark for rapid pit-stops and the days of sub-two-second tyre changes came close to disappearing when the FIA issued a new technical directive that would force the pit crew to show a clear reaction time when changing tyres. This definitely would have slowed down pit-stops for every team.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was not impressed with the new regulations, but the FIA altered their initial technical directive which has set out new rules, not including any mandatory delays from when the green light is shown to the driver.
The pit-stop rules will come into effect from the Belgian GP on August 29, but there will be no mandatory safety delay. Red Bull claimed Mercedes pushed the FIA to try and slow their pit-stops down.
The most recent spat between the top two constructors has been about straight line speed. Mercedes were surprised by the top speed of the RB16B in Paul Ricard, when Red Bull opted to take on their second power unit.
Since the British GP, Mercedes appear to have had the upper hand, even though there have been no engine changes. Marko thinks Mercedes have brought upgrades to their power unit, which would be against F1's regulations, which state no performance developments can be made on the power unit during the season.
When asked by RacingNews365.com whether a new technical directive had forced Honda to use different engine settings, the Japanese manufacturer denied the theory.
With Spa-Francorchamps and Monza coming up, the straight-line speed debate is set to continue.
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