Formula One’s governing body issued a technical directive following last weeks melodrama in Baku. It threatened to disqualify teams from qualifying and the race in Canada if the ‘metrics’ evaluated by the FIA during Friday practice demonstrated a team’s car was bouncing beyond certain new limits. It appears now that they are about to make a big backpedal on this.
The threat specifically suggested a competitor could be disqualified if the FIA felt their car was ‘unsafe’. Part of new TD set out the proposed gathering of data from sensors already fitted to the F1 cars that feeds into the FIA monitored ECU. The FIA had proposed to monitor the bouncing of each car using an “Aerodynamic Oscillation Metric (AOM)” to be devised by the governing body of F1.
A matrix will be compiled from the sensors which will determine the maximum vertical oscillations a car can display.
But now RacingNews365.com claims the “FIA have no intention of dishing out any severe penalties until their data collection process is complete – and it is unlikely that stage will be reached by the end of Saturday’s FP3 session.”
The reason for the U-Turn is the FIA are unlikely to have collected enough data by the end of the Friday practice sessions so there will be an ongoing data acquisition and analysis process continued next time up in Silverstone.
The FIA spokesperson confirmed “Therefore, the second part of the TD, namely potential action against non-compliance, will not be taken until such time as a representative amount of data has been collected.””Therefore, the second part of the TD, namely potential action against non-compliance, will not be taken until such time as a representative amount of data has been collected.”
The directive and its intention to reduce or remove the bouncing from the F1 cars has been almost universally approved by the drivers, however team bosses and senior personnel are not in agreement.
Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff believes the FIA cannot dictate the setup of the cars and he is in fact focused on getting the design regulations changed for 2023. He told Sky, “we have to lose this ground effect” element. Clearly Mercedes W13 has failed miserably to exploit this new aero era where the cars gain mechanical grip from the low pressure airflow under the cars.
Wolff believes the new ground effect cars are inherently dangerous adding, “And as ground effect cars did in the 80s and the 90s, these cars are porpoising. And to a higher or to a lesser degree with some of the teams. But as a matter of fact, there is a health issue with the drivers.
“And that’s why we cannot just leave it to the teams to say well up to you to judge. And we can already see that drivers that have been pretty vocal about the pain and the blurred vision, suddenly are less talkative about it.
“And that shows that all teams have to be protected from themselves by regulatory change.”
The 2022 car design regulations have take a couple of years to formulate with engineers, Ross Brawn and others involved. The main purpose was to allow the cars to follow each other more closely without the tyres overheating as badly making overtaking difficult.
The previous cars aerodynamic performance across the top of the car created huge vortices behind the car often described as ‘the dirty air’.
So switching the F1 car design philosophy to provide some of the grip from ground effect design cars means less aero parts are now allowed or required on the up surfaces of the car.
As TJ13 has previously reported, Toto Wolff and Mercedes would prefer a change to the new car design regulations given they cannot understand why their new ground effect car does not work as intended.
The FIA instead intervened by suggesting they will stop teams setting their cars up to increase either porpoising or bouncing but not change the car design regulations for 2023.
Christian Horner has also criticised the FIA’s intervention over the Baku nightmares stating he arrived in Canada “knew nothing about it and had to deal with this”.
The Red Bull boss believes the FIA would have been better consulting the teams before wielding their big stick and then a quicker and more workable arrangement could have been discovered.
Franz Tost dismisses the driver concerns at the Team Principal Press conference stating “These are Formula 1 cars, this is not a Rolls-Royce, and drivers should be aware about this.”
This is an indirect rebuke from Tost to his own driver Pierre Gasley who has complained regularly about the car bouncing and having to take pain killers each F1 race weekend.
If the cars are too stiff or it’s too difficult for them [the drivers], maybe they should stay at home in the living room, sitting in the chair, and then they can do the races in TV or where, I don’t know,” adds the Alpha Tauri boss.
“The porpoising and bottoming drivers have suffered since the start of the year has arisen as an issue due to the new technical regulations which were introduced for this season.”Tost believes this outcome was expected.
“When this new regulation was created it was clear from the very beginning onwards that these cars will not be easy to drive,” he said.
“Why? Because this floor with kind of a venturi [principle] makes it necessary that the car’s set up quite stiff, that the cars are quite close to the surface and that the front and the rear ride height is quite low. At least you gain a lot of performance if the car is set up as low as possible and as hard as possible.”
Clearly the FIA have entered a minefield with their hastily written technical directive as it is impossible for them to advice the teams on how to set up the cars each time at differing circuits.
F1 Race Control could however, just black flag competitors whose cars bounce beyond the currently under design FIA oscillation maximum metric.