Since the return of the porpoise to F1, teams have redoubled their efforts to limit the phenomenon. Hardening of the floor, adjustments to the height of the body, development of specific parts: everything has been tried to limit this suction effect that makes Formula 1 vehicles find and bounce.
Some teams got there quickly, such as Alpine F1 and Alfa Romeo, which did not suffer from this problem for a long time. Others, on the other hand, have had difficulty resolving it, or are even still working on it.
This is the case of Ferrari, which still manages to soften it, or Mercedes, which has had this problem for several races this year. But after Baku, where the problem raised questions about the safety of drivers, it was the FIA who intervened.
The race management published a technical directive in which it authorized the installation of a second reinforcement that connects the car with its ground, which allows to harden the said ground and limit the porpoise phenomenon.
Mercedes F1: The FIA eliminates the sand controversy
But Mercedes ’quick reaction to that directive, with evidence of a second boost (green arrow in the image below) from the Canadian Grand Prix free practice, raised questions. Alpine F1 had expressed its disagreement and threatened to file a complaint.
According to its director, Otmar Szafnauer, Mercedes’ process was not correct, because it was based on a technical directive that replaced the technical regulations. However, this is never the case, and the FIA has decided to back down.
Mercedes had also preferred to withdraw this second reinforcement on Saturday from the Canadian Grand Prix, before the FIA was added to confirm that this directive did not replace the regulation, and that there was only one reinforcement (red arrow in the image below). still allowed, as it had been since the start of the season.
The FIA denies having given in to pressure from Mercedes after Baku and claims to have proposed this technical directive to limit the risk of intense porpoise on the very rugged track of the Gilles Villeneuve circuit. This is also the reason why this directive was not put back on the table at Silverstone.
McLaren F1 approves of this immediate setback
McLaren F1 boss Andreas Seidl has explained his reasons for fully supporting this race leadership choice. The German recalls that many teams have worked hard and spent a lot of money to find solutions with a single reinforcement.
According to him, the fact that some teams can solve this problem – or reduce it a lot – by adding a simple reinforcement bar, is totally unfair. He advocates a discussion on this issue, but only in 2023.
“It’s good that at the moment we do not keep this reinforcement of the second floor, because several teams have invested a lot of energy and economic resources, finding solutions to harden the floor without the second reinforcement” note Seidl.
“That’s why, from a sports point of view, it wouldn’t be good to introduce it now, in the middle of the season. It’s correct to discuss what will happen next year, different from the methods it adopts. In the short term.”
Seidl doesn’t know what made the technical director of an FIA car, Nikolas Tombazis, back down so quickly. But he appreciates it.
“There must be a reason why Nikolas has clarified what he wants to see and what he expects. But this is the best question for Nikolas. From our point of view, we are happy with this clarification, as it should d “help. we are all on equal terms”.
A future rule to follow to the letter?
The FIA, based on the French Grand Prix, will establish a limit measure that must not be exceeded in terms of the amplitude of the rebounds. At this time, the teams still do not know what they will be exposed to when they exceed these limits, but Seidl hopes the penalty will be a total disqualification.
“It is not yet clear what the sanction will be for any team that breaches this limit, as the FIA has not communicated what technical regulations it intends to control, but technical problems usually lead to the disqualification of a session.”
While the measure seems difficult to define and the punishment may seem disproportionate, Seidl sees nothing to prevent it from being applied: “Since the introduction of this regulation is based on security reasons, I would say that the FIA is in a position to enforce it.”