Lewis Hamilton has accused the world championship pacesetters Red Bull of being lower than the low in the runup to Sunday’s Malaysian grand prix at the Sepang circuit.
The McLaren driver has pointed his finger at Red Bull for gaining an unfair advantage by running a low front wing. “I think it’s supposed to be a certain distance from the ground,” he said yesterday.
“Ours is always that big gap. Theirs is on the ground! That is the only thing that looks interesting.” And his team-mate Jenson Button joined the attack when he said: “A few people I have spoken to say it flexes more than what they expect is correct.”
But last night the Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, reacted sternly to the suggestion that his team was gaining an illegal advantage. “Our front wing has been tested more than any other front wing in the pitlane and it complies with the regulations. That’s what it has to do. We don’t have to pass a McLaren test, we have to pass an FIA one, and it complies fully with that,” he said.
In the arms race that is Formula One people have been whispering about Red Bull for the past two years, as the team has left its competitors standing on the grid. But their machines have been passed by the race director, Charlie Whiting, who said again yesterday: “We have conducted all our checks and everything is regular.”
Red Bull have gained their advantage through the genius of their designer, Adrian Newey, whose alchemy is not fully understood but is believed to be hidden deep within the flexibility of the car’s carbon makeup at speed.
When Horner was informed about Hamilton’s latest remarks he put his hand to his head and said: “He has done it again today? Oh Christ!”
Horner also explained the reason why the Red Bull car is lower at the front than the McLaren. “Shall I explain it in very basic words how it works? McLaren have developed a car that has a very low rear ride height and therefore a low front wing for them doesn’t work.
“When the rear of [our] car is higher the front of the car is going to be lower to the ground. It is obvious science. Our wing complies fully with the regulation. It will look lower to the ground because the rake in the car is higher. It is simple mathematics.”
Meanwhile, the world champion and current leader, Sebastian Vettel, said: “I thought we were talking about 2010 when I heard this was happening. I thought we had left that behind. We run the car as we run the car, we had a good weekend in Melbourne and we move on. Everything is fine.”