Christian Horner has fueled the fires of F1’s ‘Porpoising’ war, which has intensified after a tumultuous battle between the team bosses at the Canadian Grand Prix.
Horner has publicly suggested that longtime rival Mercedes was informed by the FIA, which is now taking steps to seal the car’s exit from the sport.
No team has been more affected by the porpoise phenomenon than Mercedes, whose 2022 Challenger was bouncing violently at high-speed until some improvement in Montreal.
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Mercedes claims that it has solved its main porpoiseing problem and the remaining bounce is related to how hard its car should be driven.
But its use in the practice of living on the second floor – an innovation used to stiffen the car floor and limit bouncing – did not go unnoticed by Team Boss, who engaged in a vicious war of words with Mercedes boss Toto Wolf.
The FIA’s technical instructions allowed him to stay on the second floor shortly before Friday’s practice.
Mercedes was then the only team during the practice session, although it was eliminated for the race, possibly to avoid official protests from the teams.
Horner suggests that the time between instruction and Friday practice is too short to design frame parts, unless prior knowledge.
“What was particularly disappointing was the second stop,” said the Red Bull team boss Telegraph.
“It needs to be discussed in the technical forum, and it is clearly biased to solve the problems of one team – the only team that has come here before the technical guidance.
“So get it out.”
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The team’s boss has pushed back efforts to regulate porpoises from F1, arguing that changing rules in the middle of the season was a safety issue.
During the team meeting before the Canadian Grand Prix, Wolf was seen flying in a rage over those claims.
Sources said Daily Mail Wolf “lost his temper” in the “wide-eyed rant”, feeling as if some teams were coming together on a Mercedes.
Wolf also reacted angrily to suggestions that the FIA should intervene “to level the playing field” and described the comments made by rivals as “pathetic”.
Mercedes’ problems are compounded by the low ride height of its car, which has proven to be quick only in small performance windows.
Alpine boss Otmar Schaffnauer said Mercedes could choose to drive its car in a safer range with more heights.
He further added that “some people have chosen not to lobby the FIA for change.”
Horner, meanwhile, said Mercedes was just counting the price for not designing cars in the new era of rules as well as around other teams.
“The problem with Mercedes is more serious than any other car in Canada. This is definitely for the team, “he said. “If it doesn’t affect others, it’s up to them to handle it.
“I know other drivers are complaining. Our drivers have never complained about porpoising. He has said that some circuits need to be tidied up, perhaps revived in place.
“But we had no problem bouncing. The problem is that Mercedes is driving too hard. “
It was later revealed that the FIA’s technical directive was overseen by Shaila-Ann Rao, Wolf’s former personal lawyer, who joined the governing body last month.
Still, Wolf argued that the porpoiseing situation had “clearly gone too far,” especially after his champion driver Lewis Hamilton suffered a back injury at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
“It’s foolish for a team head to try to manipulate what is being said to maintain a competitive advantage, and to try to play a political game when the FIA is trying to come up with a quick fix to at least keep the cars in good condition,” he said.
“And that’s what I said … we have long-term (health) consequences that we can’t judge.
“But at any time it’s a security risk and then a little change in the background, or a Chinese whisper or a briefing to the drivers is just pathetic.
“It doesn’t matter what the political maneuver is – the drivers have been complaining since the beginning of the season. This is what we want to handle – no matter what the solution, no matter what the technicalities.
“We all have a responsibility to take this seriously.”
Nicholas Tombazis, the FIA’s technical director for single-seater racing, is expected to meet with the team’s technical director to find a solution and reduce or eliminate the dangers posed by this year’s ‘ground effect’ car.
But, as most observers have noted, this can be a daunting task, and it can take weeks or even months to find a workable consensus in the middle of the season.