Mercedes: What’s gone wrong at the F1 and can they recover?
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Toto Wolff has reasserted his belief that some teams are breaking the current FIA regulations regarding porpoising. The Mercedes supremo believes that some teams are circumventing the rules by finding a way to make specific bits of the floor flex on their cars.
Mercedes have been particularly badly affected by new technical regulations brought in for this season that has seen a return of ground effect. This has also coincided with some teams, particularly the Silver Arrows struggling from porpoising, a phenomenon where the car suffers from high velocity bouncing at high speeds which causes a loss of downforce and hence a loss of performance.
The FIA have hence decided to implement more stringent checks to ensure teams are not trying to gain an unfair advantage. From the Belgian Grand Prix, the first race after Formula One’s summer break, the FIA will insist on a strengthening of underfloor plank skids and more intensive testing of how much wear is on the bottom of the car during races. This is in order to seek out teams that may have found a workaround to the regulations that allow their cars to run lower to the ground during the race.
Wolff has been one of the most outspoken team bosses on the issue given Mercedes’ struggles this year and he has reaffirmed his belief that other teams are flouting the rules.
“Some teams have skids that actually disappear when the car hits the ground,” the German told reporters after the Austrian Grand Prix. “The reason for skids is that they are the limitation of how much wear of the board you can have. If the skid can disappear miraculously into the floor, that is clearly against the regulations.
“Then the second thing is there is a plank that can deflect, or that basically also moves away more than the tolerance should be.
“The tolerance is one millimetre, and if a plank moves away many more millimetres up into the car, obviously, you gain some performance there too.”
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However, Red Bull chief Christian Horner has hit back against the claims of his fierce rival, believing he could be referring to their car. The drinks manufacturer has enjoyed a much more successful season than the Silver Arrows and have not suffered from porpoising. They currently sit top of the Constructors’ Championship, over 100 points clear of Mercedes, while current world champion Max Verstappen leads the driver’s standings.
“That’s total rubbish. Total rubbish,” the 48-year-old told reporters. “I think we’re getting issues mixed up here.
“Maybe he’s referring to, I don’t know, cars that are around him at the moment. I have no idea, but I have absolutely no issues or concerns on our floor.”
The current debate over porpoising is likely to continue to be a contentious talking point when the Formula One circus rolls into the Circuit Paul Ricard for the French Grand Prix next weekend.
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