Formula One’s 2022 car design regulations have created a furore not seen in the sport for years. The shift towards reducing aero from the top of the car to under the floor is rooted in the theory that the cars should be able to follow and overtake more easily. Yet certain teams and drivers have criticised the new regulations for being the source of bouncing which has created significant discomfort.
The FIA decided to intervene the week before the Canadian GP and issue a technical directive designed to take measurements from the cars to set a metric for vertical oscillations and force teams to set up their cars to reduce the impact on the driver.
In the run up to Silverstone, the FIA have concluded their data analysis and updated the technical directive with a max oscillations metric they have requested the teams monitor until the French GP.
In Paul Ricard, this maximum oscillation metric will be enforced yet the FIA have gone further with their investigation. They believe certain teams are interpreting regulations in a manner they were never intended.
The ‘plank’ that sits under the floor and must always be a certain thickness has rules allowing a degree of flexibility.
There are two points where the plank is fixed to the car have this limited defined flexibility of just 2mm, the leading edge of the plank and about half way along the chassis.
There are no restrictions at the rear of the plank and the FIA believe certain teams have engineered the mounting of the plank there to allow a cushioning effect.
If the skids are flexing more than 2mm they can be used more aggressively but won’t wear down below the minimum wear levels,
Toto Wolff was asked by The Race whether Mercedes had prior knowledge the FIA would be examining the ‘plank’. He replied, “Which was to a great surprise of all the teams because what’s in the regulations, and what was the intent of the regulations, it’s pretty clear.
“There is no argument why that could deflect more than what’s in the regs. A bit of a surprise to say the least, more of a shocker.”
Yet as always in Formula One, Wolff maybe playing a bit of politics. The regulations demand no more flexibility than 2mm at only 2 mounting points.
Isn’t this always the genius of F1 car designers, to find ways to meet the regulations but push the envelope?
The plank will not from France need to be uniformly rigid but Christian Horner believes Red Bull’s cars are “fully compliant anyway”.
The Red Bull boss believes the FIA have opened a can of worms for themselves noting, “But if a car runs wide at Copse, I’m sure the driver’s backside is getting pretty warm with the amount of wood he’s leaving on the aggressive kerbing there.
“So it’s something that, as the regulators, they are closely looking at, that there’s no abuse of it.
“But it has to be subjective.”
Whether the FIA have over reached is yet to be seen. However, if certain teams have reduced ‘porpoising’ by interpreting the regulations to allow cushioning at the rear of the plank – isn’t that something the FIA is trying to promote?
It seems they’ve looked at cars that have reduced the bouncing, then ruled what they’re doing is illegal.