LEWIS HAMILTON is at the centre of an F1 cheat storm.
Bitter title rivals Red Bull are threatening 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.
And ahead of this weekend’s crucial Qatar Grand Prix, Horner declared: “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 fought back from grid penalties totalling 25 places to win the last GP in Brazil – cutting the gap to Red Bull’s championship leader Max Verstappen to 14 points.
Mercedes insist their car is legal and team boss Toto Wolff declared: “Nobody would show up with an illegal engine or rear wing.
“The world is too transparent for that.”
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But Horner added: “When you see marks on the rear wing endplates that have been marking up from wings flexing, it is very clear what has been going on.
“It’s hidden in the way it operates, so it’s harder to spot from a camera.”
The 48-year-old also remarked how he has no relationship with Mercedes counterpart Wolff.
When quizzed about their relationship, Horner said: “There is no relationship.
“This is the first time they have been challenged and it is interesting to see how people react when they are challenged.
“Relationships and respect are different things, there is respect for everything Mercedes have done, everything Lewis Hamilton has done.
“I don’t need to go to dinner with Toto, I don’t need to kiss his a***. It is a competition, it is great that we are in this position and fighting.
“Toto and I are very different characters and operate in different ways.
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“Am going to be spending Christmas with Toto? Probably not…Unless you’re in panto this year, I might take the kids!
“From my perspective it is F1, you don’t have to be best mates with your opponents. How can you be?
“It would be dishonest in many respects to fake a facade when you’re competing against your rivals.”