A Formula 1 team boss has added fuel to the fire of an ugly war following ill-tempered clashes among fell team bosses at the Canadian Grand Prix.
Christian Horner has added fuel to the fire of F1’s ‘porpoising’ war, which has intensified following ill-tempered clashes among team bosses at the Canadian Grand Prix.
Horner has publicly suggested that long-time rival Mercedes was fed inside information from the FIA, that is now taking steps to stamp the bouncing of cars out of the sport.
No team has been more affected by the porpoising phenomenon than Mercedes, whose 2022 challenger had been bouncing violently at high-speeds until some improvements were made in Montreal.
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Mercedes claims that it has solved its main porpoising issues, and the bouncing that remains relates to how stiff it must run its car.
But its use in practice of a second floor stay — an innovation used to stiffen the car’s floor and limit the bouncing — did not go unnoticed by team bosses who are engaged in an ugly war of words with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.
A technical directive from the FIA permitted the use of a second floor stay shortly before Friday practice.
Mercedes was then the only team to introduce one during the practice sessions, although it was removed for the race, possibly to avoid official protests from teams.
Horner suggested that the time frame between the directive and Friday practice was too short for the part to be designed, unless there was prior knowledge.
“What was particularly disappointing was the second stay,” the Red Bull team boss said, according to The Telegraph.
“It has to be discussed in a technical forum, and that is overtly biased to sorting one team’s problems out – the only team who turned up here with it, even in advance of the technical directive.
“So work that one out.”
Team bosses have pushed back against attempts to regulate porpoising out of F1 by arguing that there was a safety issue in making rule changes mid-season.
Those claims saw Wolff reportedly fly into a fit of rage during a team meeting before the Canadian Grand Prix.
Sources told the Daily Mail that Wolff “lost his s**t” in a “wide-eyed rant”, feeling as if teams were ganging up on Mercedes.
Wolff also reacted furiously to suggestions that he wanted the FIA to intervene to “level the playing field”, and described comments made by rivals as “pitiful.’”
Mercedes’ issues have been exacerbated by the low ride height of its cars, which have proven to only be quick in a small performance window.
Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer said that Mercedes could choose to operate its car in a safer range with a higher ride height if it wanted to.
“It’s just some choose not to and lobby the FIA to make changes,” he added.
Meanwhile, Horner said that Mercedes was simply paying the price for not designing a car around the new era of regulations as well as other teams.
“The issue with Mercedes is more severe, or certainly it has been prior to Canada, than with any other car. That surely is down to the team,” he said. “It’s within their control to deal with that, if it’s not affecting others.
“I know it was said other drivers have been complaining. Our drivers have never complained, ever, about porpoising. They’ve said certain circuits could do with tidying up, perhaps resurfacing in places.
“But we haven’t had an issue with bouncing. The problem is that Mercedes are running their car so stiff.”
It was later revealed that the FIA’s technical directive was overseen by Wolff’s former personal lawyer, Shaila-Ann Rao, who moved to the governing body just last month.
Nonetheless, Wolff argues that the porpoising situation had “clearly gone too far”, especially after his champion driver Lewis Hamilton injured his back at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
“Team principals trying to manipulate what is being said in order to keep the competitive advantage, and trying to play political games when the FIA tries to come up with a quick solution to at least put the cars in a better position, is disingenuous,” he said.
“And that’s what I said…we have long-term (health) effects that we can’t even judge.
“But at any time this is a safety risk and then coming up with little manipulations in the background, or Chinese whispers, or briefing the drivers is just pitiful.
“The political manoeuvring doesn’t consider what is at the core of this – that since the start of the season the drivers have been complaining. It is something we have to tackle – whatever the solution and whatever technicality has to be implemented.
“We all have the responsibility to take this seriously.”
The FIA’s technical director for single seater racing Nikolas Tombazis is expected to meet the teams’ technical directors to find a solution and to reduce or eliminate the dangers caused by this year’s ‘ground effect’ cars.
But, as most observers have noted, it will be a difficult task and may take weeks or months to find a workable consensus that is acceptable midway through a season.
Originally published as Bombshell claims of inside information ignites ugly F1 war