The mother of all rows broke out at yesterdays meeting of the Formula One Piraña club during the 2022 Canadian GP weekend. The topic? F1’s current car design philosophy. It appears from insiders that this was mostly a Toto Wolff verses the other team principals affair, but tempers raged.
Martin Brundle reported the meeting had been “feisty” and another paddock insider claimed “it was a row on a different scale from any of the press conference spats we’ve seen before.”
The reason for the hastily called summit is not clear. Some suggest it was a Mercedes driven agenda to get the FIA to change the sporting regulations which is hurting their car design. Others believe it was because most team principals object to the action the FIA took when issuing this weeks technical directive.
Speaking earlier to Sky F1, Red Bull boss Christian Horner explained his objection. “I think, look, the FIA you can understand safety being their main concern, but to drop a technical directive like that, just as we’re coming into into a weekend without any consultation, it just feels the wrong way to be going about things,” he said.
“I think there needs to be proper consultation with the experts and a solution can be found. But it’s a very dangerous thing to be giving the FIA basically the right to set your rear ride height and your set-up going into a race.”
Horner has a point. It seems absurd the FIA are set to prescribe the way a team sets up their car, though F1’s governing body has intervened before setting things like minimum tyre pressure against the wishes of the teams.
The other team principals are concerned the FIA has intervened due to lobbying from Mercedes. The W13 had a new stay on the car just hours after the new TD was announced. Other teams think Mercedes had knowledge the FIA Technical directive was on its way and so had the stay ready to fit.
The stay was removed by Mercedes before qualifying for fear others would protest its use to the FIA
The row took off when Wolff accused his peers of propping up regulations which had implications for driver safety. Christian Horner retorted that he and Mercedes should just “put their house in order,” given Mercedes drivers’ have suffered the worst from the car bouncing.
One source claimed then “Toto lost his shit” and launched a tirade of abuse on the other team principals accusing them of behaving in a “pitiful” way and “manipulating” driver comments to suit their agenda.
A visibly irritated Toto Wolff confirmed to Sky F1 following the meeting. “This is a sport where you’re trying to either keep a competitive advantage or gain it, but this situation has clearly gone too far,” said Wolff.
“All drivers – at least one in every team – have said that they were in pain after Baku, that they had difficulty in keeping the car on track, or blurred vision.
“And team principals trying to manipulate what is being said in order to keep the competitive advantage and trying to play political games when the FIA tries to come up with a quick solution to at least put the cars in a better position is disingenuous.”
The row is set to run and run after the FIA backed down from enforcing any action on teams during the Canadian GP. Though their data gathering to determine which cars have the greatest vertical oscillations continues.
If the FIA can’t tell the team’s how to set up their cars, which is a minefield, they have the black flag for cars exceeding the to be agreed maximum vertical G-force a driver should suffer.