QATAR GP PRACTICE LATEST
Lewis Hamilton admitted he struggled in practice for the first ever Qatar GP – as Red Bull threatened to protest the legality of his Mercedes car.
Red Bull chief Christian Horner claims its rear wing breaks FIA rules by flexing too much at speed – giving Hamilton a huge amount of extra pace.
Horner said: “The straight line performance in the last two Grands Prix has gone exponential and that concerns us.
“Make no bones about it, if we see it on the car here it will be protested. If we believe the Mercedes car is not in compliance, we will protest.”
Hamilton’s bid to win a record eighth F1 title has reached a critical stage as he lies 14 points behind Championship leader Max Verstappen with just three races left.
The Brit’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas was quickest in practice, with Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly second.
Verstappen came next, 0.350secs slower than Bottas and a mere 0.072secs quicker than fierce rival Hamilton.
Mercedes star Hamilton said: “I’m definitely not close. I’m a little bit slow, so we need to figure that out tonight.”
Verstappen was more guarded, saying: “Still a lot of things to look at because everything is still so new.”
McLaren’s Lando Norris and Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll were fifth and sixth respectively.
Next came Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Red Bull ace Sergio Perez.
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz also made the top 10.
Earlier Mercedes had a request for a right of review of the lap-48 saga in last Sunday’s Sao Paulo thriller rejected.
In that latest controversial exchange between the duo, Verstappen forced race winner Hamilton off track.