Max Verstappen claimed Red Bull’s fourth win of the season in France on Sunday after overtaking Lewis Hamilton on the penultimate lap, breaking Mercedes’ undefeated streak at the Paul Ricard.
After the race, the seven-time world champion highlighted the straight-line speed that Red Bull earned over the weekend in France, while Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said after the race that the team had made “a big step forward with its power unit” and later clarified that this was not intended to suggest that Honda had brought a major update.
The Formula 1 regulations for 2021 prohibit teams from making improvements to the performance of their power units, and specification changes are only allowed for reliability reasons. Red Bull changed the power units of his cars before the weekend in France, and Pierre Gasly did the same at AlphaTauri.
Red Bull has answered questions about its impressive straight line speed by attributing the gains to its low resistance setup and smaller rear wing.
After getting pole on Saturday for the Styrian Grand PrixVerstappen responded to questions about the performance of his Honda engine, saying he wanted to “highlight the difference in the rear wing that we are using” and that there was “no clear advantage in pure power.”
Asked by Motorsport.com On whether there was any chance of unlocking more engine performance through reliability tweaks, Mercedes boss Wolff expressed surprise that Red Bull protested the suggestion so much.
“I wonder why this is such an important topic, when we all know that power units need to be homologated,” said Wolff.
“I’m very surprised that the guys at Red Bull are still protesting the history of the power unit so much. That’s kind of weird.”
“The rules are very clear. It is approved, reliability arrangements can be made, and that’s it.”
“Obviously, there are certain things you can change, but you have your chips and you have to use them, and that’s it.”
“So there shouldn’t be any power advantage as such.”
Hamilton referenced Red Bull’s straight line speed after falling within two tenths of a second of Verstappen in qualifying on Saturday, saying it would be difficult for them to “compete.”
Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez responded to a question about Red Bull’s straight line speed by praising the work being completed at the Milton Keynes factory to bring more updates to the car.
“The team is working hard,” Pérez said.
“Everyone in the factory is trying to develop the car in the best possible way, bringing improvements almost every weekend and the results are seen on the track.”
“Obviously we have a smaller rear wing than the competition. So I hope that can be an advantage on race day.”