Mercedes lobbying ‘backfired’
Many drivers have, during or following the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, expressed their concerns about the porpoising and/or excessive tailgating of the 2022 version Formula 1 cars. Among them, the Mercedes drivers, whose single-seater is among most affected by these phenomena, Lewis Hamilton having particularly suffered greatly from the back during the race in Baku.
This, together with consultation with experts and doctors, has led the FIA to undertake a series of first steps in an attempt to circumscribe what is perceived to be a potential health and safety risk, whether short, medium or long term. These measures were announced via a Technical Directive published before the Canadian GP.
On the one hand, this document provides for the future implementation of a system for measuring vertical oscillations which would force teams exceeding a certain threshold to act so that this does not happen again. On the other, awkwardly, it also provides the possibility for the teams to make concrete modifications to the floors, whether in terms of thickness or the addition of reinforcement. However, this second part coming into direct contradiction with the technical regulations, such provisions are for the moment almost inapplicable because of the risk of complaint.
Some team leaders – one of the most vocal on the subject having been Christian Horner, who had already shown his opposition in principle to such measures – expressed their dissatisfaction or at least their astonishment, in particular concerning the timing publication of the directive. But, beyond this subject, some observers wondered whether the oscillation control would not, once implemented, be particularly costly for Mercedes, whose W13 struggles to limit its rebounds due to its height. bass box.
Speaking for Motorsport.com On this subject, Helmut Marko said that the threat of an intervention by the FIA to force the teams suffering the most to set up F1 differently was precisely what could undermine Mercedes’ current performance. This leads him to affirm that these measures are the opposite of the goal sought by the German team, despite the declarations of Toto Wolff affirming that it was necessary « protect the stables from themselves ».
« Exactly »said the Red Bull leader. « In German, we say: ‘der Schuss ging nach hinten los’ [que l’on peut traduire par ‘le coup s’est retourné contre eux’, ndlr]. So it backfired on Mercedes. »
Helmut Marko with Christian Horner
Despite the health issue, statements from various drivers from different teams and a regulation that would potentially allow teams to continue to place athletes in a situation of physical danger, Marko persists in the idea that the FIA should stay out of this question in view of the disparities on the grid.
« I totally agree with Max. [Verstappen]it’s not okay to change something like that during the season. It can’t be up to the FIA to make our adjustments. Changing the ride height means changing the settings and the FIA cannot do that. Second, I think this is all the result of one team’s problems. This team should just sort out its own problems and not affect other teams. »
The meetings that are being held this week on the subject in an attempt to find a compromise, however, may not give Red Bull as much respite as the seemingly innocuous Technical Directive before Montreal. For Marko, the federation needs to provide more details anyway: « I think there are too many parameters that are not clear yet. So I think the FIA needs to make another clarification. »
With Ronald Vording and Jonathan Noble