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Christian Horner fires ‘totally dumb’ retort at Toto Wolff as F1 ‘flexi floor’ saga rumbles

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Christian Horner has hit back at Toto Wolff after he suggested Red Bull was one of the teams with an illegal flexible floor – which is explained below; Watch the French GP on Sky Sports F1 this weekend, with Sunday’s race at 2pm

Last Updated: 07/19/22 06:08

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Ted Kravitz and Johnny Herbert analyze the ongoing controversial issue with F1’s flexible floor crackdown ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

Ted Kravitz and Johnny Herbert analyze the ongoing controversial issue with F1’s flexible floor crackdown ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

Christian Horner has dismissed suggestions that Red Bull could be one of the teams affected by a new F1 directive as ‘total rubbish’, hitting back at Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff amid ongoing debate on the “flexi floor”.

The FIA, F1’s governing body, has confirmed that a new technical guideline on car floors will be in place from August’s Belgian Grand Prix, resisting pressure from some of the top teams to ease repression.

The directive is primarily safety-focused and attempts to reduce car porpoising with a new metric. But the FIA ​​is also introducing measures to prevent teams from flexing their floors, following speculation that some were exploiting a loophole to improve performance.

Mercedes, F1’s former dominant force, believe Red Bull and Ferrari, the fastest teams in 2022, have more flexible floors than allowed by the rules, with emphasis on the wooden plank and runners under the cars.

Asked by Sky Sports F1 if he thought some teams were bending the rules, team boss Wolff said in Austria: “I think so. I haven’t been able to press some teams’ slip-ups.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff shares some of his thoughts on the FIA's recent changes to the controversial flex floor crackdown.

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff shares some of his thoughts on the FIA’s recent changes to the controversial flex floor crackdown.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff shares some of his thoughts on the FIA’s recent changes to the controversial flex floor crackdown.

Asked about the identity of certain teams, he replied: “Yes, we look at our competitors.”

Red Bull and Ferrari have been adamant that their car is legal and have passed all official FIA checks so far. They also both expressed their dissatisfaction with the new technical directive.

But Horner criticized the idea that Red Bull used a flexible floor to find performance, while joking that Wolff “is referring to the cars around him at the moment” – a dig at Mercedes’ lack of form up front.

“That’s hogwash,” insisted Horner. “Absolutely no issues or concerns on our floor.”

The F1 flex floor saga and why it could impact performance

Car porpoising has been a phenomenon of 2022 and following an Azerbaijan GP which saw drivers in visible discomfort from bouncing, the FIA ​​has issued a technical guideline that all teams should follow, with a new metric for measuring the vertical oscillation of cars.

But also included – in a revised guideline ahead of its Belgian GP debut – a focus on board wear and, more pertinently, flex.

F1 regulations state that a car’s floorboard can only flex 2mm. However, the FIA ​​checks only take place in three areas of the ground, and it is suspected that some teams may have had more flexibility in the places they do not check – potentially thanks to the fitting of their pads, plates titanium which are fixed on the board.

There are suggestions that teams were instead able to get up to 6mm of flex from this, which would give an aero advantage as the cars could run higher and lower rake to the ground.

Ted Kravitz looks back on an epic race at the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian Grand Prix.

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Ted Kravitz looks back on an epic race at the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Ted Kravitz looks back on an epic race at the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian Grand Prix.

This part of the directive – which Wolff called a “shock” earlier this month – is not against the rules but circumvents their intent and has led to an even bigger rift between Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari.

Mercedes have been one of the teams most affected by the porpoising and accuse their rivals of flexing their floors, while Red Bull and Ferrari have little to no rebound and are the ones accused of having a flexible floor.

“I probably wish it had come a bit sooner,” said Wolff, with the directive previously intended for the French GP this weekend. “But that’s how it is. At Spa, we won’t see that anymore.”

Wolff also said he wanted the directive immediately because “it may impact performance.”

Red Bull and Ferrari, meanwhile, oppose both key elements of the directive.

“The technical guideline is obviously focused on the bounces and porpoises that some cars struggle with,” explained Horner.

“Obviously we saw it at Silverstone, no car was really affected by this. Is it the competitor’s duty to make sure their car is safe? Or is it the FIA’s duty to ensure that the competitor uses his car safely?

The saga may be on hold for now pending the directive – but the war of words will surely continue.

French GP schedule live from Sky Sports F1

Thursday July 21
2 p.m.: Drivers’ press conference

friday july 22
10:35 a.m.: F2 training
12:30 p.m.: French GP Practice One (start of the session at 1 p.m.)
3:45 p.m.: 2nd training session for the French GP (start of the session at 4:00 p.m.)
5:25 p.m.: F2 Qualifying
6:10 p.m.: Series W qualifying
7 p.m.: The F1 Motor Show

Saturday July 23
11:45 a.m.: 3rd test of the French GP (start of the session at 12 p.m.)
1:30 p.m.: W Series race
2:35 p.m.: Preparation for qualifying for the French GP
3 p.m.: French Grand Prix qualification
4:55 p.m.: F2 Sprint race
6 p.m.: Ted’s qualification notebook

Sunday July 24
8:30 a.m.: F2 Feature Race
12:30 p.m.: Grand Prix on Sunday: preparation for the French GP
2 p.m.: French Grand Prix
4 p.m.: Checkered flag: reaction from the French GP
5 p.m.: Ted’s notebook
5:30 p.m.: Highlights of the French GP

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