RACING

FIA facing rebellion over F1 2023 floor changes

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As part of the FIA’s safety intervention to limit rebounds following complaints from drivers, it recently set out the measures it was going to put in place.

In addition to the application of an aerodynamic oscillation metric (AOM) and a crackdown on flexible floors from the Belgian Grand Prix, it also decided that changes to the technical regulations were necessary for 2023.

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Following discussions in the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) after the Austrian GP, ​​the FIA ​​said it would mandate a 25mm elevation of the floor edges, an elevation of the diffuser throat below the floor, stricter lateral floor deflection testing and the use of a more precise sensor to measure rebound.

The teams are currently awaiting more detailed rule proposals from the FIA ​​on this, which should include the specific measures and regulations the governing body wants to put in place for next year.

But the series of measures has however already provoked a reaction from teams unhappy with the scale of the costly changes – which they consider unnecessary, the problem of porpoising appearing to be better controlled in recent races.

It is understood that a core six-team squad – which would include Ferrari, Red Bull, AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo, Haas and Williams – are ready to contest the changes amid questions about whether the FIA’s claims that it This is a legitimate security question. .

It has long been part of the sport’s governance structure that, for safety issues, the FIA ​​can change the rules without needing team support.

Article 1.2.2 of the F1 Technical Regulations states: “Any modification made by the FIA ​​for safety reasons may enter into force without notice or delay.”

It is understood that disgruntled teams have started to pressure FIA ​​President Mohammed Ben Sulayem to argue that the changes to the technical rules for 2023 are not a real safety issue and should therefore not be allowed.

Sources with good knowledge of the situation have suggested there is even the support of eight teams – which would be enough for a ‘super majority’ rule change to be ratified through normal Commission processes. F1 – for a less extreme compromise solution. of the ground.

It is suggested that teams could accept more minor tweaks – such as raising the floor edge by around 10mm – as this would not require such a fundamental redesign of the cars at this late stage.

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What’s unclear are what means teams have to fight the changes if the FIA ​​stands firm and refuses to reverse its decision to go with its most extreme version.

One factor that cannot be completely ruled out is a veto from Ferrari, with the Italian team having retained their right to block specific rule changes under the new Concorde agreement which comes into effect from 2021.

While the veto is unlikely to be able to prevent rule changes for genuine security reasons, the debate over whether or not the changes fall within that jurisdiction means the situation is not crystal clear.

A number of teams are particularly concerned that the scope of floor changes introduced by the FIA ​​will play into rival Mercedes’ hands – and the adjustments both this season and for 2023 are framed in such a way that they could benefit the German. Car manufacturer.

There are also fears that Mercedes overestimated the porpoising issues it struggled to overcome just for the FIA ​​to be forced to step in and change the rules.

A team boss said: “The changes are so extreme for 2023 because Mercedes claims to have found 40 per cent more downforce for next year so they have urged the FIA ​​to act. If Mercedes really did it, then you might as well give them the world championship now.”

The FIA ​​insists, however, that its actions are only motivated by the safety of the current generation of cars.

A statement from the governing body last week said: “It is the FIA’s responsibility and prerogative to intervene in matters of safety, and the reason why the regulations allow such action to be taken is precisely to allow decisions to be made without being influenced by the competitive position in which each team may find itself.

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