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Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes could be in danger of losing this year's F1 World Championship in the courtroom rather than on the race track, as Red Bull contemplate a protest against the Merc's rear wing.
The battle between Red Bull and Mercedes has been extremely tight all season, with tensions simmering behind the scenes.
While Hamilton's on-track clashes with Max Verstappen have been well documented, the rivalry between team bosses Toto Wolff and Christian Horner has provided some of 2021's best drama.
Horner, who has been Red Bull team principal since the team's creation in 2005, has now added fuel to the fire, by suggesting that his team may lodge an official protest against the two Mercedes cars - which have looked notably quicker in a straight line in recent weeks.
According to Horner, Hamilton's Merc has gained pace during recent rounds, which was most evident during last weekend's win in Sao Paulo, where the Brit won from 10th on the grid.
"Since Hungary, there's been a step-change in straight-line speed which has gradually been getting greater and greater." Horner stated on Sky Sports F1.
The key factor behind the improved pace of the Silver Arrows could well be to do with the car's rear wing.
Should Red Bull launch a protest and subsequently uncover a rule violation, Mercedes would be in danger of losing both World Championship crowns before we even reach the final race in Abu Dhabi next month.
In simple terms, Horner's chief accusation is that the wing flexes too much, giving Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas a big advantage down the straights.
While nothing has been proven to be illegal just yet, if Hamilton can convert pole position into another dominant win in Qatar this weekend, you can expect Red Bull to be knocking on the FIA's door before the final classification is even posted.
By contrast, Mercedes continue to insist that they have nothing to worry about in regard to the legality of their car.
Mercedes have already been disqualified from a session for a rear wing infraction this season.
Last weekend in Brazil, Hamilton was made to start from the back of the grid for Saturday's Sprint qualifying session, after his DRS was adjudged to have opened too much during Friday's running.
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