Red Bull Racing advisor Helmut Marko has accused rivals Mercedes of engaging in "unsportsmanlike behaviour" during the course of the 2021 season. He feels that they resorted to such tactics when they realised that the Austrian team was putting up a genuine title challenge.
The two teams have been embroiled in a tense battle for both the Drivers' and Constructors' championship, with the pendulum swinging both ways as the season progressed. The tense battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen on track, has on more than one occasion, spilled off the track with team bosses Christian Horner of Red Bull and Mercedes' Toto Wolff also having a go at each other.
There has been little to separate the two teams on track, but both the cars' legality has been questioned. The first was the flexi-wings on the RB16B, which was brought up during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix by Mercedes, and then the Silver Arrows' rear wings came under scrutiny at the Brazilian Grand Prix after a complaint was made by Red Bull.
"When Mercedes saw that we were equal or even faster, they first came up with flexi-wings and then all sorts of other sham arguments," Marko said, as quoted on Racing News 365. "We took those actions as a very unsportsmanlike gesture and, after that, we also focused on what happens at Mercedes, for example with those wings."
"That all comes with it when the battle is as intense as it is this year and especially when someone is not used to another team being able to offer competition," the Red Bull chief added.
Apart from the battles on track, Marko also spoke about Red Bull's suspicions over the FIA being partial to Mercedes. The Red Bull advisor confirmed that they have held extensive talks with the governing body FIA and F1's owners Liberty Media about their alleged "one-sidedness."
"We felt that there was a certain one-sidedness in the decisions," Marko said. "But in the meantime, we have had several discussions with the FIA and also with Liberty, so I would say that it is 'part of the game'."
The F1 juggernaut arrives in Saudi Arabia for the penultimate race of the season this weekend. Hamilton currently trails Verstappen by eight points in the championship, while Red Bull have a five point deficit to Mercedes in the Constructors' championship.