Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Hungaroring, 2022

F1 teams can ‘get around technical directive on skid blocks a little bit’

2022 F1 season

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Alpine are hoping a technical directive on skid blocks which will come into force at the next race plays in their favour.

The new restrictions, which will be applied from the Belgian Grand Prix, have been introduced following claims from some teams that their rivals have been able to gain performance by using skid blocks which do not perform in the way the rule makers envisioned.

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer doesn’t believe the new directive will be entirely successful, but remains hopeful it will bring his team closer to their rivals.

“It’s hard to know because you can still kind of get around it a little bit,” he said. “But we don’t do it for sure so it won’t prejudice us at all.

“It won’t put us in any worse position. So if they’re worse off and we stay the same then relatively, hopefully, we’ll be a bit better off.”

The FIA intends to introduce further new restrictions on teams’ floors in 2023 to alleviate the problems of porpoising and bottoming some drivers have raised concerns about. However Szafnauer believes teams’ development will eliminate the problem without any interference by the rule makers.

“For us, I think the best thing to do is nothing,” he said. “At the beginning of the year, we had a lot of porpoising. If you remember the first test, almost everybody was bouncing around.

“By now if you look at a whole race, do you see any porpoising anymore? Not anymore. So I think teams will naturally get to a position where the cars don’t porpoise. You get the best out of the car, the drivers are okay.”

Changing the rules creates a “risk” of worsening the problem, says Szafnauer. “We’re in the middle of the season, by the end of this year you won’t hear ‘porpoising’ at all. So just leave it as it is.”

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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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23 comments on “F1 teams can ‘get around technical directive on skid blocks a little bit’”

  1. The funny thing will be what all these teams say when next year Mercedes rock up with a full flexible floor solution and are one second per lap faster than anyone else. I’m willing to bet they’ll be screaming for in season changes at that point. Pretty easy to see the teams terrified of losing some floor tricks with the line on porpoising being “fixed”. Whatever is going to happen the FIA just need to do it and stop procrastinating.

    1. They might complain, but I doubt they will engage in the sort of utterly hypocritical bs Toto engages in, suggesting that it’s FIA’s moral imperative to protect driver’s health; all while Mercedes drivers by all accounts are the ones that almost the only ones that have every said anything about serious health issues related to purpoising. In fact, most drivers seem ok with it.

      I’m ok with teams trying to pull others back by making technical arguments. Engineers fighting engineers and that sort of thing. I’m annoyed when someome hypocritically tries to elevate an issue to a moral one; particularly when the team is 100% capable of fixing any issue that could be detrimental to the health of the driver. Mercedes have known for a while how to fix purposing. They just didn’t want to lose performance, so instead of fixing it, they have lobbied FIA to try and force everyone into a technical directive

      1. I know you have a distaste for Mercedes but if your thinking they are the only ones that play dirty then your own hatred for them is blinding your judgement. Horner is just as bad and any of the other team principals would equally jump on the bandwagon to change rules if it benefitted them. It’s been like this all through the sport. Briatore, Todt and Dennis just to name a few.

        1. @ajpennypacker can only say that with honesty if they haven’t been watching F1 before this winter really @rob8k, it’s as if working to convince the FIA to chance rules hasn’t had a long history in F1, with some being more blunt and others more balmy but ultimately self-serving about it (for me, the discussions in 1994 about the plank addition and the 1995 measures, and of course the 1993 to 1994 change to ban active suspension which was on safety but also blatantly an effort from their competitors to reign in Williams that I first encountered it), which definitely made the Williams harder to drive, and arguably more unsafe.

        2. @rob8k well of course teams play dirty and. I’ve criticized Horner and Briatore and Todt just as harshly in the past. But I’m talking about today and this specific situation.

          1. Constantijn Blondel
            9th August 2022, 21:46

            @ajpennypacker I agree with the point you made, which was – as I read it at least – your dislike for the way Toto, specifically, turned this thing into some kind of moral argument. I dislike holier-than-thou behaviour and this whole idea that if you drag morality or ethics into it everyone should somehow mysteriously not have a different opinion anymore … it’s just silly.

            In that respect, I didn’t feel you were bashing Toto or Merc, or automatically absolving everyone else from displaying similar behaviour :)

    2. @slowmo – The only strange thing is why didn’t the FIA told the teams over 2 races you have the problem fixed otherwise during the race you get a black and orange bal flag and when it’s not fixed take the car out of the race.

      How fast you think the teams afflicted will fix their problem? I even think before that race everyone solved their problem.
      But no lets invent new rules… when there is already a rule if a car isn’t safe to take it out of the race…

      1. You’ve completely missed the point there is evidence that the forces involved are causing serious risk to drivers health, even on cars that supposedly have no issues…

      2. You are right and that is exactly what FIA is about doing. Every car is proposing to a certain degree. At what degree is it dangerous that you can black flag a car? That metrics or value must be made known esp to all the teams. That is what FIA is going to implement with their TD come SPA GP.

        Let’s not forget the flexing floors and disappearing skids or planks… I think this is in order too. It’s like enforcing an already existing rule. No biggie

        The change in rules to cub porpoosing comes in 2023 which I also think is unnecessary

  2. Does anyone know how teams will “get around it a little bit”?

  3. Naturally no team is going to admit they’re doing it and need massive changes to be in-line with the TD. So come Belgium, we’ll either see one or more team fall through the order, or not at all because it turns out to be not such a massive gain as thought.

    I highly doubt that the latter is the case, so it’ll be interesting to see which teams blatantly lied when asked if it was going to impact them. Mercedes seemed pretty sure that it were Red Bull and Ferrari, obviously because they’re grasping at straws there as to why those teams beat the mighty Mercedes in building a better car. Then again, Binotto and Horner seemed pretty genuine when they denied it impacting them. Sure, Horner has said more in the passed that wasn’t exactly the Gods honest truth, but Binotto hasn’t. Then again, Ferrari and their engine come to mind…

    What would be more interesting if it’s an entirely different team that has been doing it. Alpine would’ve been a good candidate as they’re doing pretty good, but I’d go more towards a Haas or Alfa. Both have been sparking a lot since the start of the season (both on-track and in results) and especially the latter has been pretty strong without updates and nothing spectacular on the outside of the car (sidepods, wings etc).

    1. Horner denying it says nothing but that he’s denying it and might even be seen as a confirmation (or he’d say I don’t think we will be impacted a lot I think), Ferrari, well there wasn’t anything with their PU in 2020 either right @duuxdeluxe, but I do think that Alpine are right that it probably won’t be a huge effect in the end, because even teams that have been using all the ‘technical’ room in the rules have had time to prepare; I definitely agree such measures often tend to show unexpected victims, will be interesting to see (though if AM or HAAS are it for example, will be even realize it?)

    2. @duuxdeluxe I don’t know what sport you have been watching but Binotto said right from the announcement of the changes that Ferrari would have to change their floor.

      Horner on the other hand…

  4. Fraudulent topic. Can’t blame Mercedes for trying, but do dislike them for it

    1. Many fully independent teams like McLaren-Mercedes, Aston Martin-Mercedes, and Williams-Mercedes have also noted that this is an issue that warrants mid-season FIA intervention.

      On a more serious note though, the FIA is the one who should be criticized. They’re the ones who are either not, or incompetently, checking for floor wear. This is such a basic feature of the F1 rules that it’s been unchanged for decades. Did Mercedes not wear the floor when they were bouncing around for what seemed like half the lap? How is that even possible?

      A lot of this goes back to a problem that F1 has had since it fell into the grasp of the big manufacturers: disqualifications are exceptionally bad PR and must be avoided (nearly at all costs). Only when teams just massively take the proverbial P***, like Red Bull in 2014, does a Big Team ever get disqualified for breaking the rules. In all other cases, the FIA will prefer to ‘suggest’ they change the illegal parts, or they ‘direct’ all teams to make similar changes in a couple of months to cover up the cheating.

    2. So you’re fine with RB literally bending the rules (some might say cheating), but MB should just accept it? That’s your idea of ethics?

      1. Rule bending in F1 has been around since……FOREVER! That’s what attracts the pinnacle engineering minds in motorsport to F1 and what makes F1 the pinnacle of motorsport.

        1. Pushing the envelope makes F1 the engineering pinnacle, tearing the envelope doesn’t. It appears that certain teams have been doing the latter and have been ordered to cut it out. We’ll see at Spa how this has progressed.

        2. SteveM, when the FIA itself told the teams prior to the season starting what the interpretation of that regulation was, and the interpretation that Red Bull and Ferrari are accused of coming up with was designed to ignore the FIA’s instructions, those same teams really can’t complain when the FIA tells them that it’s going to formalise that earlier instruction to ensure that teams stick to the FIA’s position on the rules.

          It also seems to say a lot that the abuse is directed at Mercedes, even though the FIA’s own scruitineering teams were the ones who first spotted this issue and raised it to the FIA’s own technical department to request the loophole was closed. It’s as if people find it somehow impossible that the FIA itself might not approve of teams deciding to abuse the regulations that the FIA has laid down.

          1. People forget things a lot. I remember Toto being shocked when the FIA brought up the matter about disappearing skids blocks or planks and flexing floors. Mercedes is the scapegoat, I guess… Thanks Anon for bringing this up

  5. Last statement is very true but mercedes just wanted to shake things up and in the enc it might backfire since they have already made big progress in running the car far less stiff than usually.

  6. Fred Fedurch
    8th August 2022, 23:12

    Noting rallies the troops in here like someone making a disparaging comment about Emperor Palpati………er, Toto.

    1. lol. Get to the choppa, Dodo!

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