“The FIA is taking a dangerous path in dictating the set-up”. Like this Christian Horner as always, without using too many words, he expressed all his disappointment in the face of the prospect of an increasingly ‘intrusive’ Federation in the search for a more balanced starting grid and without teams capable of being significantly faster than the competition. Ferrari and Red Bull – in what was to be the new era of F1 marked by ground effect in the name of entertainment, surprises and the possibility for all teams to dream of a place in the sun – have dominated the nine races so far disputed and only the respective technical problems or other particular situations allowed the Mercedes and the McLaren of Lando Norris at Imola to get on the podium never going beyond the third step.
The F1-75 and the RB18, despite being decidedly different in terms of design philosophy on the track, have always been very close, if not very close. Toto Wolff has repeatedly stressed that Mercedes was in the ‘nobody’s land’, or rather in a limbo in which the W13 is faster than the rest of the starting grid, but unable to worry the performances of Ferrari and Red Bull. The porpoising it is one of the weaknesses of the car built by the Brackley team and the action by the FIA that will take place over the weekend of the French Grand Prix to combat the aerodynamic rebound has alarmed the teams led by Mattia Binotto and Christian Horner. Ironically, the Paul Ricard a year ago was also the watershed stage as regards the rigidity tests of the ‘flexible’ rear wings which – among others – Ferrari and, above all, Red Bull had to stiffen to overcome the new parameters established by the Federation.
The text of the note issued by the FIA to the teams on the eve of the British Grand Prix ends like this, we report first the original language, that is English: “Additionally, the Technical Directive also sets out some updated parameters relating to plank wear and skid stiffness, which are inherently related to the same issue, and go hand-in-hand with the metric. These changes are necessary in order to provide a level playing field between the teams when the metric is implemented “. This is the literal translation: “Furthermore, the Technical Directive establishes updated parameters relating to the stiffness of the flat bottom, which are linked to the same problem (porpoising, ed), and that go hand in hand with measurement. These changes are necessary to achieve a leveling off between the teams once the measurement is implemented ”.
The German newspaper Auto Motor und Sport reported the perplexities on the part of Christian Horner and Mattia Binotto about the possible implications of the incoming technical directive that would hit the flexible flat bottom in resin (by regulation the construction material is free – as long as it has a specific density – and has a production tolerance on the dimensions of 0.5 mm) made by Ferrari and Red Bull, a flat bottom capable of deforming to allow the F1- 75 and the RB18 to produce as much downforce as possible. “If they classify a car that touches too low as dangerous, they will also have to prohibit a driver from driving with slicks on a wet track”sarcastically commented Mattia Binotto; “But do they also have to tell us what the set-up of the car should be like?”, Horner’s provocation. According to the hypothesis of our technical specialist Carlo Platella, the FIA technical directive close to entry into force in France in two weeks could in fact oblige all teams to raise the cars’ trim from the groundan action that would most affect single-seaters capable of generating aerodynamic load through the bottom able to remain as adherent as possible to the asphalt, even through the deformation of the flexible flat bottom in the case of Ferrari and Red Bull.
In the first instance, therefore, with the technical directive, the FIA forcing the teams to lift the cars off the ground for safety reasons would mainly affect the performance of Ferrari and Red Bull. Secondly, moreover, in view of 2023 the goal is to stiffen the component of the flexible flat bottom as already reported in the note above and delivered to the stables. A turn of the screw that, according to Auto Motor und Sportwould allow Mercedes and McLaren to continue using the 2022 car concepts also for 2023 as they could be far more competitive than Ferrari and Red Bull than they currently are.
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