Valtteri Bottas was fastest for Mercedes on the opening day of Qatar Grand Prix practice at Losail International Circuit but the action was elsewhere on Friday, as Christian Horner and Toto Wolff traded barbs at the same time the FIA denied Mercedes’ right to appeal last week’s non-penalty on championship leader Max Verstappen.
The most dramatic Formula One title fight in at least a decade further intensified on Friday when Wolff, the head of Mercedes, and Red Bull principle Horner sat side-by-side during a tense 30-minute media briefing that displayed the full animosity between the two teams.
F1 moved this week to Losail for the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix with the results of last week’s race still hanging over the championship fight.
Lewis Hamilton earned his 101st victory at the Brazilian GP to cut his deficit to Verstappen to only 14 points with three races remaining.
Mercedes protested the decision not to penalize Verstappen in Sao Paulo when the Red Bull driver ran Hamilton wide off course as the seven-time champion attempted a pass for the lead.
The FIA heard the appeal on Thursday and then denied the Mercedes request as Horner and Wolff were in the middle of Friday’s briefing.