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F1 ponders ‘secret’ of Red Bull’s speed

After the team orders controversy, F1 teams have moved on to a bigger problem: Red Bull’s overwhelming pace.

Ferrari looked to have closed the gap with one-two victory at Hockenheim, but on Saturday Sebastian Vettel’s 1.2 second advantage over the first non-Red Bull was described in Hungary by Mercedes reserve driver Nick Heidfeld as “frightening”.

“I don’t know what they are doing, but it’s incredible,” said McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, who is leading the championship but nearly two seconds off the pace in qualifying.

The 2008 world champion’s boss Martin Whitmarsh suspects Red Bull is bending the rules and its front wings too far and gaining as much as a second per lap in that way.

“Or, the front of the floor is moving up further than we expect, because that’s another piece of bodywork that’s intended to be rigidly attached,” said the Briton.

BBC radio commentator and former Super Aguri racer Anthony Davidson said on Saturday: “I’ve heard rumours about all sorts of things going on, including flexible floors.”

When asked what is the secret of Red Bull’s speed, Vettel said after qualifying that the answer is “well hidden”.

There have been quiet rumours about flexible front wings on the Red Bull since the Chinese grand prix, as long ago as April.

Mercedes’ Ross Brawn said on Saturday: “That (the front wing) is not the reason this car is so fast.  It’s part of many good ideas that all fit together.”

Vettel said: “It’s the track.  The cars have not changed since six days ago, when Ferrari were slightly faster than us.  Now they’re 1.2 seconds back.

“The only difference between now and then is the track.  Just as Hockenheim was perfect for Ferrari, so Hungary is for us.”