Wolff plays down Ferrari oil trick rumours

Toto Wolff has played down suggestions the FIA might have taken away Ferrari's secret weapon in 2017.

As the teams arrived in Baku, a rumour did the rounds that Mercedes had asked the FIA to clarify the rules about adding oil to fuel.

The rumour was that Ferrari had been taking advantage of the 'trick' via an extra oil tank, for a performance gain.

So as the Italian team suddenly dropped a full second behind Mercedes in Azerbaijan qualifying, some insiders quickly connected the dots.

"I don't know why the gap is what it is," Mercedes team boss Wolff said.

When asked specifically about the FIA's clampdown, he added: "I don't know who is doing what, but I think the FIA's further clarification makes the conditions for that more stringent.

"But I don't think this had any particular effect here."

Another suggestion is that Ferrari's alleged oil-in-fuel trick has its biggest effect in qualifying.

Sebastian Vettel said: "Our long runs on Friday were strong, so I have no particular worries about our pace.

"I think ourselves, Mercedes and Ferrari are very close," he added.

The German qualified fourth at Baku, behind his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

It has raised the spectre of a 'team order' to swap that position and give Vettel a clear run at the two Mercedes, but Vettel insisted: "I do not expect help from Kimi.

"Overtaking at this track is possible, so we'll see how things go."

(GMM)

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