The FIA will meet with the teams this week to try to defuse the controversy sparked by their intervention in the regulations which overshadowed the Canadian Grand Prix. F1’s governing body had attempted to address issues with cars bouncing around the track this season, amid fears for driver safety, but their efforts have simply caused friction in the paddock.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has said the FIA must act given its responsibility for driver safety, but his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner has accused Mercedes of designing a car that has exacerbated the problem with rebounds and that they should fix it rather than expect a change in regulations.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won in Montreal, taking his lead over Sergio Pérez, who did not finish, to 46 points and third-placed Charles Leclerc to 49 points. Mercedes took third and fourth with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell and the team were delighted with their improved performance.
The Mercedes car has been particularly affected by the porpoising and bouncing issues that are a consequence of the new regulations this season. Porpoising is a violent vertical jerk caused by the increase and then loss of downforce from the ground effect under the car. Most teams, including Mercedes, believe they have solved this problem by now. But the bouncing of pilots in the cockpit remains for many teams. This is a factor of the cars having very stiff suspension and low ride height necessary to maximize ground effect aerodynamics.
In Monaco and Baku, on bumpy tracks, the bouncing was very violent and questions were raised about driver safety, including the risk of micro-concussions and whether they could safely see the braking zones .
The Thursday before the Canadian GP, the FIA issued a technical directive stating that it had to address the issue and attempt to find a solution. It also made it possible to make certain changes in Montreal to try to mitigate it. This proved controversial, with some teams opposing what they saw as a rule change without consultation.
After a heated meeting of team leaders on Saturday, Wolff described the political maneuverings of some teams around the subject – which he considers a safety issue – as “pitiful” and “dishonest”.
No satisfactory conclusion has been reached, Nikolas Tombazis, the FIA single-seater technical director, will now meet with the teams’ technical directors this week to try to reach a consensus on the way forward before the next round, the Grand Prix. from Great Britain to Silverstone. .
The issue remains highly charged, with Mercedes accused of exaggerating its drivers how uncomfortable they were in the car to speed up a rule change. Wolff, however, noted that it was a widespread problem across all teams and feared opposition to dealing with it would be short-sighted. “The current political maneuverings do not take into account what is at the heart of this subject,” he said.
“At the heart of it is that since the start of the season drivers have been complaining about the pain of driving these cars. Back pain, blurred vision, we’re talking about micro-concussions and people giving their opinion in literally all the teams. It’s something we just have to address: whatever the solution and whatever can technically be implemented to move in that direction.
“We have to be aware that it’s not about cutting a winglet which is an advantage for a team, or a double spreader. It’s that all of us, team managers and teams, have a responsibility not to take this lightly.
Red Bull, who lead the drivers’ and constructors’ championships and have a car free of porpoises and most rebound issues, are unsurprisingly reluctant to agree to rule changes they deem necessary solely because of others’ failings. teams.
“The problem with Mercedes is more serious than any other car,” said Horner. “Surely it depends on the team. It’s under their control to deal with it, if it doesn’t affect the others. We haven’t had a problem with rebounding. The problem is that they run their car so hard. I think their concept is the problem rather than the regulations.