Formula 1 teams welcomed the FIA’s decision to delay introducing a clarification which could force some to change the design of their cars’ floors.
The FIA originally announced that a new technical directive clarifying this area of the regulations would come into force in time for the French Grand Prix. But at yesterday’s meeting of the F1 Commission the decision was taken to postpone it to the Belgian Grand Prix, over a month later, to allow teams more time to make any necessary changes to their cars.
“Following feedback and consultation with the teams and in order to allow the teams to make necessary updates to the plank and skid assemblies, which will ensure a fair application of the metric used to measure this oscillation across all cars, the implementation of the draft technical directive issued to the teams prior to the British Grand Prix will come into effect from the Belgian Grand Prix,” said the FIA and Formula 1 in a joint statement.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff drew attention to the behaviour of other teams’ floors following the Canadian Grand Prix three weeks ago. His driver George Russell said yesterday “Ferrari and Red Bull were probably pushing the boundaries with the planks a bit more than the interpretation of the regulation.”
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto claimed the technical directive was aimed at addressing the ‘porpoising’ some teams have experienced this year. He said that as this problem has lessened in recent events – which have taken place on smoother circuits – the clarification can be delayed.
“We are still discussing much the TD and the porpoising,” he said in today’s FIA press conference. “But as a matter of fact it doesn’t seem to be an issue or a subject anymore.
“It was not a subject in Silverstone, it has not been here a subject, in Austria, for [any] of us. I’m pretty sure it will not be in the next two races.
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“So again, are we overshoot[ing] with the FIA, the subject? Was there really a true need to act and to release TDs? At first they did it in Canada not following the right process. It’s good that after that they reviewed it, they started a discussion at the [Technical Advisory Committee], there will be a new discussion next week at the TAC once again, trying to fine-tune it.
“On the floor there will be some changes which will be required because now a new clarification has been issued with new tests, which is required, new requirements, new specifications. It will take some time to do it so I think it’s good to relax it to Belgium because, not being a subject, there is no need to rush.”
However Wolff said the directive was needed to address the “different interpretation on the skid assemblies” used by some teams as it has a bearing on the performance of the cars. “That means how low you can run the car in the front and also stiffness of plank, which will be a discussion for next year’s regulations.
“Obviously, for us, we don’t need to change anything, so we would like to have it as soon as possible. It can help for porpoising, which Mattia said is not a big issue for the next races, that’s true, but it can be a performance topic. I think again, a compromise is coming for Spa that allows the teams that need to change enough time and we can live with that.”
Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack said he was “not surprised that there was a big reaction” to the technical directive, “because it seems that of the big teams not all have exploited this avenue.”
“I don’t think that will change anything for us,” he added.
Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur indicated he would be happy with an even longer delay. “I think we could postpone to race 14 or even 16 or 18,” he said. “I’m not really convinced that it’s to the FIA to interfere into the set-up of the car.”
“It won’t be a big change for us,” he added, “but I’m a bit surprised with the reaction because in the regulation the plank is supposed to be a rigid.”
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