Toto Wolff’s hopes that the latest FIA technical directive would cost Red Bull up to half a second in lap time have been dashed with Max Verstappen’s predictions seemingly coming true instead.
The Singapore Grand Prix marked the first race weekend after the latest FIA technical directive came into play with the sport’s governing body clamping down on the flexibility of the front wings on the grid.
This technical directive also happened to coincide with Red Bull’s weakest race of the season. The Milton Keynes-based team had won all 14 races to date prior to Singapore and with some comfort too, but the reigning constructors’ champions were forced to settle for P5 and P8 finishes on Sunday.
Mercedes team principal Wolff had previously given his hopes for the technical directive, stating: “I don’t know who is exploiting that to more [of a] degree, not a bigger degree than others. But if maybe a Red Bull is half a second slower or something, that would be nice, but I don’t think it will be the case.”
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Unfortunately for Wolff, while Red Bull were much slower than usual in Singapore, according to the Red Bull hierarchy, this had nothing to do with the technical directive with no parts of the RB19 affected by the FIA’s latest instructions.
Helmut Marko confirmed that he had no fears when speaking to Auto, Motor und Sport about the rule change, stating: “It had been planned for a long time. It worked well in the simulator and promised more downforce.”
Team principal Christian Horner doubled down on Marko’s claims, adding: “I know all of you would love to blame the TD but unfortunately, we can’t even blame that because it’s not changed a single component on our car.
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“So I think circuit characteristics are different here. And I think that we just haven’t optimised a car in the right window to extract the most number.”
These claims are in line with Verstappen’s expectations ahead of the weekend. When asked whether the front wing changes would affect his pace, he replied: “I don’t think it will. We never had any flexible front wing or whatever so I don’t think it will hurt us.”
While Red Bull and Verstappen were out of the conversation in Singapore, the championship leaders are expected to bounce back in Suzuka, which is a more traditional downforce circuit and the place where Verstappen clinched his second title last season.
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