George Russell, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2022

FIA clampdown on floor stiffness “a surprise to say the least” for Wolff

2022 British Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says he was surprised to learn the FIA plans to toughen up the policing of floor stiffness from the French Grand Prix.

After issuing a technical directive on the subject of cars porpoising at the previous race, the FIA put out a revised version ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix.

Wolff said the directive had clarified an area of the regulations relating to the cars’ bibs and floors, which will come into force in two races’ time.

“I believe that some teams have been stretching that maybe too much and that’s going to change before Paul Ricard,” he said.

The FIA’s clarification came as a surprise, said Wolff, who believes the regulations regarding floors had been unambiguous.

“Nobody had an idea until the FIA brought it up in the last technical advisory committee, which was to a great surprise of all the teams, because what’s in the regulation and what the intent of the regulations is pretty clear,” he said.

“I mean, there is no argument why that could deflect more than than what’s in the regs. So it’s a bit of a surprise to say the least. More of a shocker.”

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl said he was pleased with the steps the FIA had taken since Canada, where the original technical directive provoked controversy.

“What I was very pleased with the last two weeks, after all the emotions in the Montreal paddock, is that we actually had a good process in place. The last two weeks, led by the FIA, we had a technical advisory committee where the experts came together and actually discussed the way forward under the clear leadership of the FIA.

“Which was important, they made it clear that on the grounds of safety, they will implement changes and the will implement a TD. I was very happy that each team actually could contribute and still can contribute to this TD that comes into place from France onwards.

“In parallel, also regarding the direction for next year, that’s the right process. That’s what I would like to see as well how Formula 1 works and I’m pretty happy with that.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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44 comments on “FIA clampdown on floor stiffness “a surprise to say the least” for Wolff”

  1. This is bound to have ‘major’ reprocussions.

    Whilst the teams won’t be named, you can expect to see performances suddenly dropping off, with much head scratching on the reasons for this… You’ll also have the usual pundits in the media offering no clues. Reminds me of the ‘oil burning’ fiasco which was known of, smirked at, but allowed to persist.

    For another source check out this article.

  2. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    3rd July 2022, 11:53

    Parts of an F1 car flexing under aero load, surely not.
    I… am… deeply… surprised.

  3. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    3rd July 2022, 11:54

    So Mercedes missed the boat several times this year, but all the things other teams found must be taken away to level the playingfield? Formula 1 is turning more and more into a joke of a sport.

    When Mercedes dominated for almost a decade without any other team coming close, nothing was done. Yet now that there is a fight between two teams and 1 catching, it must be changed because Mercedes isn’t on top. That new lady that came from Mercedes is clearly influencing in favor of Mercedes and it’s pathetic.

    1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
      3rd July 2022, 11:55

      In addition, I really don’t understand this push. Using a slightly bending floor (assuming it’s Ferrari and Red Bull doing) removes bouncing without having to introduce expensive active suspension. Isn’t that exactly what the FIA wants? A cheap ‘fix’ on the grounds of safety?

      Oh wait, who am I kiding. It’s only good for the FIA if it benefits Mercedes…

      1. BLS (@brightlampshade)
        3rd July 2022, 12:03

        Whilst I largely agree with your argument I doubt having a floor that flexes the right amount is something that is cheap to work out.

        Never been a fan of mid season rule changes, yes things flex but if they pass the test then well done to that team for being clever. Fix the test for next year sure, but don’t punish a team for following the rules given.

        1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
          3rd July 2022, 12:14

          Fair enough.

          I would however say that, if a team manages to solve the issue by doing this (aka reading between the lines), it’s all fair game. Permanently.

          There’s still a soft ‘ban’ on flexing wings (both front and rear), yet all wings (Mercedes including and especially) flex like there’s no tomorrow. So if that is accepted, shouldn’t this be either?

      2. I’ve read it somewhere today that the flexing is allowed by not more than 2mm but some teams were stretching their floors by as much as 6mm, to answer you. It’s not a trick that Merc missed, it’s a case of some teams exceeding the allowed maximum stretching of their floors. Wolff is shocked as to why these teams were allowed to do this, not as to why Mercedes missed thia trick.

        1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
          3rd July 2022, 12:31

          Front wing flexing on all cars still exceed the max limits, yet because it passes the test, there’s nothing that can be done.

          This is quite literally the same. And if they somehow manage to find a test to check this during a race, they deliberately chose not to do the same for the flexing wings that Mercedes fancies.

          Either way, it’s all aimed at helping 1 team…

          1. So tired of this: FIA helping Merc. Haven’t you been watching last 8 years? Basically every change was aimed at slowing down Merc.

            Whilst this may effect Red Bull and or Ferrari, it has norhing to do with Merc. Actually, it appears it was Alpine who brought the flexing floors up. The fact that Toto is shocked since the rules are clear: no more than 2mm flexing and to find out that the competition exceeded it by factor 3 shouldn’t be a surprise. Right?

    2. “When Mercedes dominated for almost a decade without any other team coming close, nothing was done.”

      Removal of DAS, FRIC suspension system, engine ‘party modes’, changing the rear floor regs into 2021.

      Yeah, nothing was done…

      1. Indeed – some people have very, very selective memories.
        Over and over, the FIA banned things or amended rules over things that Red Bull claimed were the reasons that Mercedes were ahead (even though no rules were broken) and Mercedes just re worked their car and won anyway.
        Unlike Ferrari and their engine cheat, which crippled them, Mercedes at the time were so good in depth that they just worked around it.
        Let’s see what effect this floor decision has – if it closes up the front 3 teams, we’ll know who’s been breaking the rules.

      2. Bruno Verrari
        3rd July 2022, 12:43

        Usually for the following season only…

      3. And the 2017 aero change, and the front wing changes from 2019 or 2020. People indeed get so caught up by the automatic, irrational criticism of the world champions, that they forget how many changes have been prompted by Redbull and others since 2015-2016 to try to claw back relative performance to Mercedes via politics and regulation changes. That’s by the way how Redbull/Verstappen managed to win last year, and not without a massive help from Masi, under pressure from Redbull. And still “fans” treat Mercedes and Toto as the antagonists.

        1. Sure and last year they didn’t change the rearwing flex testing and the pitstop procedure. Talking about selctive memory. Rules are rules and claiming the FIA or RD is doing things in favour of one team or the other is just plain stupid.

          1. Wortheh Champion
            5th July 2022, 5:54

            The FIA allowed redbull to run flexi wings first races till Mercedes demanded clarification. Get a grip

    3. The point here is that Mercedes were obeying a strict interpretation of the rules, whilst other teams were known to be breaching those rules.

      The ironic thing is you have teams reconsidering their design philosophy to jump on the Redbull ‘look’ without realising
      that ‘look’ requires breeches outside of the rules to achieve its apparent level of stability.

      Its for the FIA to enforce the rules, not allow some teams to bend those rules, as other teams throw good money after bad in pursuite of a fruitless solution.

      This all comes down to a basic idea which is fundamental to the free market and fair competition. Otherwise you might as well tollerate ‘insider trading’ and the various other incarnations of rule breaking.

      1. The point here is that Mercedes were obeying a strict interpretation of the rules, whilst other teams were known to be breaching those rules.

        That’s what the Mercedes PR machine are feeding their fanbase. Do you expect Mercedes to be on Ferrari/RBR pace after the rule change ?

        1. Whether they will be or not is not the point here. The flex is allowed by 2mm, anything more should be banned.

          1. I totally agree with you on that one but that’s not the point though. Mercedes PR machine has been spreading the narrative of whenever they invent something they are genius and it’s up to competition to catch up and if another team is doing a good job then they must be cheating.

            Ferrari and RBR cars are so far complying with the rules and even after the new TD they will be complying with the rules. Will Mercedes be faster after the rule will be enforced ? I don’t think so because they are lagging everywhere.

          2. 1. Mercedes performance advantages came from designs that were legal, but subsequently banned due to changes in the specifications.
            2. Red Bull and Ferrari’s gains came from breaking the rules
            as they stood, but deliberately hiding that violation from the FIA’s testing systems (in other words, they knew they were cheating). The FIA did not change the rules, they just made their tests more accurate.

    4. There were many things changing aimed to slow down Merc in those years. Don’t make a comment without adequate knowledge please…

    5. Wortheh champion
      5th July 2022, 5:50

      Nothing was done? lol after years of redbull crying and begging the FIA to slow down Mercedes…
      The FIA:
      -Banned the das
      -introduced new flow regs slowing down low rake teams like Mercedes and favoring high rake cars like redbull
      -Allowed redbull to run half the season of 2021 with flexi wing
      -Literally allowing max to get away with brazil
      – Violating their own safety car rules to give Redbull the drivers standings.

      nice try redbull $imp but toto has the right to do exactly what redbull did when they were not ahead. Complain till something gets done. Cry about it

  4. petebaldwin (@)
    3rd July 2022, 12:15

    I haven’t ready the rules so hopefully this is just a case of them enforcing the already existing rules correctly. Otherwise, it’s the FIA once again changing rules mid-season to help out certain teams…

    1. From what i understood, and i’m no expert by any mean, this is exactly the same case as the flexi rear wings from last year, in fact, the technical directive will come into force in the same place (France). This was a case of some teams again stretching their floors by more than the allowed 2mm (6mm for some) and the FIA will now enforce all teams to stretch their floors by 2mm max with 10% deviation at max. Some will say this was a clever interpretation of the rules, others will say this was cheating.

    2. @petebaldwin despite the tantrums that we are having to put up with from other posters, this is about enforcing an existing regulation.

      Before the season began, the FIA held a number of technical briefing sessions where they issued guidance on the interpretation of the regulations. One of the items that was included was a set of instructions from the FIA on how the teams were supposed to construct and attach the plank to the car – instructions that Red Bull and Ferrari are accused of ignoring with their designs.

      The current regulations set a deflection limit of 2mm on the floor, but it is reported that, during scruitineering of the floors on both the Ferrari and Red Bull cars, the FIA’s scrutineers have observed that both teams have been intentionally abusing the tolerances on the construction of the plank to give the plank variable stiffness that allows the plank to flex much further than that 2mm limit, thus contravening the regulations.

      The FIA is therefore reported as having stated that it will no longer consider a floor which uses the type of construction that the teams have employed as not being in compliance with the regulations that set out how the floor is to be constructed and attached to the car.

      1. Thanks Anon, I wasn’t aware of the background to this so it really helps to have that filled in to understand what this is about.

  5. I thought Toto Wolff’s private audience at the FIA was over with the Abu Dhabi race.

    As you can see, the FIA has no problem relaying information coming from inside the organization to Mercedes.

    More crying = more changes in favor of Mercedes.

  6. This story would also appear to show Redbull were disingenuous when they advised other teams to raise their ride height to stop the bouncing, instead of having the FIA intervine.

  7. I’m suspicious by default to anything that comes out of the Mercedes camp and especially their hypocrite team principle for historic reasons. In this case and with Seidl position, you only have to invert Toto’s statement to know the truth. What I don’t understand is why is Toto hiding ? It’s common practise in F1 for teams to point out their rivals technical solutions in order to get them banned and it will be the standard in the budget cap era since copying is expensive.

    Maybe he wants to divert attention from his former personal assistant who is already under scrutiny. She is doing a great job by the way, 2 months already and two technical directives aimed at Both Ferrari and RBR averaging a TD every month. Ferrari and RBR might lose something with this change but Mercedes will have zero chance to catch them pace wise and Toto will continue to cry. Another thing is who is going to pay for this biased midseason rule change ?

    1. FIA brought it up, not Mercedes, so please get some facts right. Read the rules and understand certain teams having been breaking them and cheating. Nothing to do with Merc.

    2. You really don’t have to comment on issues you don’t understand.

    3. MoreWinsThanYourRoleModel
      5th July 2022, 6:01

      Redbull fans forgotten that Horner literally went to the FIA and asked them to slow down the Mercedes in 2015, and kept complaining till they introduced 2017 regs which Mercedes survived easily then complained again till he got the new floor regulations in 2021 that slowed the Mercedes low rake concept and got the DAS banned and with all of that he still needed a race directory to violate the rules to win a tainted driver’s title

  8. Maybe Ferrari is going to be in trouble, looking at the bouncing they have. But the directive is actually disallowing any flexing, whether it is inducing porpoising or not. Mercedes seems convinced it can close the gap so either Ferrari or Red Bull, or both could be affected. And what about other teams, who will be the biggest loosers on that one ?
    Again, an unwelcome mid-season change. Though for this one it really look like it went above reasonable levels, most notably in Baku.

    1. To be fair this is not a mid season change, this is applying an existing rule which some of the teams are not abiding to. Same as the flexi rear wings from last year.

      1. Indeed and they should be
        1. It should regulated right away not in a few races
        2. Those found guilty should have being dsq from those races

  9. Calypso Wriggler
    3rd July 2022, 13:56

    Cat. Pigeons.

  10. Tricky Dicky Newey, caught cheating again. Let’s see how the Bulls handle with a floor that complies with the rules.

    1. Let’s see how the Red Bulls handle with a floor that complies with the rules. Ferrari too.

  11. The usual F1 circus. Those who found a way to bend the rules (literally it seems) and those who didn’t complaining. Those who did making any and every excuse to prevent the changes. As a fan not wanting to see Verstappen run away with this one easily bring on any changes that might reel them back.

    To the RB fans fuming about this, Mercedes have had many innovations pulled back in recent years, Ferrari too. What goes around comes around.

  12. Let take a moment to appreciate the skill of the engineers to figure out how to get a meaningful performance gain from 2mm of deflection in a part. This sport is amazing.

  13. Let take a moment to appreciate the skill of the engineers to figure out how to get a meaningful performance gain from 2mm of deflection in a part.

    I think the point to bear in mind is that it would appear that they can’t, and that they need 6mm or more to get that meaningful performance.
    Performance changes when this kicks in will be interesting to observe, much like the “not related to the TD” change in Ferrari engine performance the other year.
    People will be playing “spot the cheat”

    1. Yep. And I think the cheats will be easy to spot…as a new fan..only the past 3 years..I will be very disappointed if teams who bent the rules are allowed to keep the gains. Unless of course they instantly start losing….that will be penalty enough.

  14. Wortheh Champion 1*
    5th July 2022, 5:55

    Time to play politics like horner did for the last 8 years when he could not match Mercedes performance. Good job toto complain till they are slowed down that is the only way redbull managed to get ahead of the competition in 2020 and 2021

  15. 2022_formula_1_technical_regulations
    3.15.1 Introduction of load/deflection tests
    In order to ensure that the requirements of Article 3.2.2 are respected, the FIA reserves the
    right to introduce further load/deflection tests on any part of the bodywork which appears to
    be (or is suspected of), moving whilst the car is in motion.

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