For some it was not an own goal as it seemed. But a well-orchestrated strategy that will lead to a result: blocking Ferrari and Red Bull with a change of regulation this season. The complaint about porpoising launched by the Mercedes drivers which then triggered the reaction of the FIA with the TD39 issued in Canada had a goal: not so much to limit the hopping on safety factors, but the desire to hit the two top teams that are competing for the world championship.
Detail of the Red Bull Racing RB18 bottom
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
How? Trying to block the flexible bottoms that allow the red and the RB18 to travel with lower ground clearance than the competition, relying on a much greater aerodynamic load thanks to the upward deflection of the bottom and of the pad under the body.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
In the Silverstone paddock there are those who do, perhaps wrongly, conspiracy and those who fear that a war front is opening up that could set fire to the first season of ground-effect single-seaters, sparking endless discussions on topics that were already known with the wing -car from the 1980s and which were not sufficiently gutted during the deliberation of the 2022 rules.
The case exploded in the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) which met in the week following the Canadian Grand Prix during which suspicions emerged that some teams are able to go beyond the regulatory constraints: to ask the question would have been the FIA that reported data for the porpoising study.
Current regulations provide for a maximum movement of 2 mm in the two central holes of the table and no more than 2 mm in the rearmost hole to ensure that the floor is sufficiently rigid.
Let’s say straight away that Ferrari and Red Bull brilliantly pass the technical checks and their respective cars are therefore perfectly legal. The FIA does its job and tries to find those who, skillfully, manage to go beyond the static constraints.
The t-tray damper of the Ferrari F1-75 which should be used to avoid breakage of the shoe on the curbs
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
According to the rumors filtered in the paddock there would be teams capable of reaching 6 mm of deflection, allowing you to have a front splitter that rises to allow you to aim the trim more towards the asphalt trying to seal the bottom of the track with the side skirts. pneumatics that everyone has learned to generate.
Toto Wolff, Team Principal Mercedes with George Russell
Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images
Toto Wolff, Mercedes team principal, confessed that he was surprised by the findings …
“Nobody had an idea until the FIA raised the matter in the last Technical Advisory Committee, which was a big surprise for all the teams.”
“What is written in the regulation and what the spirit is is quite clear. I mean, there is no argument as to why we should deviate from those values. So for us it was a surprise if not a shock.”
The FIA, therefore, withdrew the first document of the TD39 and issued a second one which aims to change the rules starting from the French GP to Paul Ricard by notifying the teams of a tightening of controls on the movements of the ground and the board. .
Nikolas Tombazis, technical chief of the FIA single-seater sector
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Nicholas Tombazis, FIA chief technical officer in the single-seater area, made it clear that he was making a move to ensure that there was fairness between all the cars, “suggesting that this has not been the case to date.
The 2mm flex tolerance will be strictly enforced and the stiffness around the bottom hole should be uniform over a radial distance of another 15mm, with a tolerance of no more than 10 percent.
The FIA has specified that “… the competitors will be required to demonstrate compliance with these provisions through a detailed inspection that will be done both through the CAD data and in the physical verification in the pits and in the analysis of the CFD”.
Andreas Seidl, McLaren team principal, said: “From our point of view, we are happy with the clarification in the TD because it should help put us all on par.”
Andrew Shovlin, head of Mercedes track engineers, believes that the novelty could bring the team closer to the top positions…
“What has come to light shows us that there have been opportunities that we may not have seized or exploited. The effects will not affect our car, but they could affect our competitors and, therefore, we would get a little closer.”
All true, but then we ask ourselves: why don’t we go and look at the flexions of the front wings, visible in the world-vision thanks to the camera cars, and only the bottoms? Perhaps because the masters in the execution of this art are others? The FIA has a duty to enforce the rules with all the means at its disposal, but the doubt in the paddock is that the spotlights turn on only on certain details that perhaps are inspired?
In France the technical directive will come into effect and we will see if the technical values on the field will change or if Ferrari and Mercedes will be able to maintain a leadership they have achieved on the field …
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