Mercedes F1 boss, Toto Wolf, is super-convinced that Red Bull and satellite team Alpha Tauri received performance boosts at the French Grand Prix when Honda introduced new, upgraded engines. The Mercedes team boss outlined Red Bull’s three victories in a row as a warning shot across the bow. Christian ‘Good Cop’ Horner refuted these claims telling reporters in France:
“We’re not allowed to make improvements so I’m not quite sure what he’s referencing there.”
“I think that it’s the same specifications as the first unit, we’ve run a much smaller rear wing here.”
“So that’s why the straight-line performance was strong, but I mean Honda are doing a great job but we don’t see a sudden increase in power.”
But Toto Wolff isn’t convinced by Horner’s explanation. He believes the upgraded Honda power unit is now the most powerful and durable engine on the F1 grid. A position that belonged to Mercedes in the current V6 Turbo Hybrid era. Speaking to the media Wolff outlined his reasons behind the shift in powertrain-power:
“If you increase the durability then maybe you can get more performance out of it, even if you have almost the same hardware,”
“They have clearly made a big jump, bigger than we did, you can see it now on the straights, there is no passing them at the moment.”
“What advantage we had on the straights, we no longer have,”
So what is Toto Wolff doing here? By claiming Red Bull has found an increase in power Wolff is implicitly saying that Red Bull has engineered an unfair advantage. Perhaps the aim is to get the FIA to launch an investigation, with the intention of temporarily de-railing Red Bull’s progression.
By questioning Honda’s sudden but yet unproven power advantage, Wolff is playing a Machiavellian game. Formula 1 heads to Austria this weekend, the Red Bull Ring is owned and operated by Red Bull.