The FIA have issued a technical directive to come in force from the Formula One Belgium GP after the summer break. Certain teams and drivers petitioned F1’s governing body to look at driver long term health due to the physical effects of certain cars extreme bouncing. Data has been collected on each car since Montreal and a metric will be introduced which defines the maximum vertical oscillations which the cars must remain within from the Spa Francorchamps weekend.
During this investigation the FIA also discovered there were different interpretations of how the plank and skid plates were mounted. Some teams had recessed the mounting of the plank more than others allowing them to run lower to the floor.
The FIA has decided one interpretation of this mounting will apply from the race next week in Budapest.
However, none of the teams have admitted whether they will have to change their floor design and none are admitting this will affect their performance.
Mercedes visibly struggled the most with bouncing in Baku as they tried to lower their car to improve their performance. The team believe the philosophy behind their new design would suit the cars being run higher which led to a war of words today at Paul Ricard.
Toto Wolff commented he felt the technical directive had exposed teams using cheating and should have been implemented immediately.
“I think this TD should have been brought in once it was discovered, 3 races ago. The argument ‘is it fair to have brought it in mid season? Is the wrong one,” said the Mercedes boss.
It should have been introduced when it was discovered because its clearly much more than a loophole”
Wolff went further outlining he would like to see the FIA change next years design regulations too.
“For next year they’re talking about what can be done in order to remove some of the questions around the floor.”
Mercedes extreme car concept and floor would benefit from a change in the regulations otherwise they may have to ditch their current car design and in effect start again for 2023. Whereas the other teams will merely evolve their cars.
Christian Horner was visibly irritated when asked about the issue later. He again played down any changes to the Red Bull car that may need to be made for Spa.
“It’s not so much the directive that’s an issue. I think the problem is what they’re looking at as a remedy for next year. The directive is neither here or there for us.”
“I think there’s an awful lot of lobbying to change the regulations significantly for next year,” lifting the side of the floor in particular is what Horner objects to.
Horner believes it is Mercedes who are lobbying the FIA stating the sought rule changes are “so a certain team can run its car lower and benefit from their concept.”
“It’s a very very late point in the year to be doing this, “ Christian explained adding, “So I think the President [of the FIA] is doing the right thing. He’s collecting all the information and hopefully a sensible solution can be found.”
“It’s too late for fundamental regulations, which that would be.”
When pressed why the FIA had issued the technical directive if nobody was doing anything wrong, Horner answered a different question.
“Just run their car higher. It’s easy. We haven’t had a problem all year. There’s only one team that’s had a big problem.”
In conclusion the Red Bull boss noted, “We’ve got some of the most talented engineers in the world in this sport. I can almost guarantee you if we came back next year [with the same regulations] there would be no cars with issues.”
“The last few races its [the bouncing] look OK. Here it looks ok. So you don’t want to knee jerk into an over reaction that could have fundamental impacts on next year’s cars.
These regulations [proposed changes] are looking to change completely the philosophy of the floor and the throat of the car.”
It is true there has been much speculation that Mercedes would by now have changed their car philosophy and some observers are surprised they are persisting with the current design.
Clearly if they can get the FIA to change the 2023 design regulations this would make their car design perform better without the expense of starting from scratch with little time before aspects of the 2023 cars begin prototype production.