The new technical directive from the FIA – TD-039 – aims to gather data from teams throughout a Friday on race weekends, and set values and parameters of acceptable vertical movement and bouncing for teams to adhere to come Saturday’s Free Practice 3 and Qualifying. Teams that theoretically don’t adhere to those values would be obliged to raise their cars – ultimately getting disqualified if they don’t.
It also outlined that teams are now allowed to mount a second metal stay on the floors of their cars, to ensure its rigidity and thus reduce bouncing/porpoising. This caught the attention of many due to the fact it was strictly prohibited before, and when it was allowed very late into the preparations of a race weekend – on Thursday afternoon – the Mercedes team already had a second floor stay fitted on its cars for practice on Friday.
According to Ferrari Team Principal, Mattia Binotto - speaking to MotorLAT and other selected media outlets - the FIA hasn’t handled the situation well, given a technical directive cannot have an impact on the technical regulations, as they are more of a clarification and addressing mechanism than anything else:
“For us, that TD’s not applicable,”
“And it’s something we mentioned to the FIA.
“A TD is there to clarify regulations, or to address policing. It is not there to change the regulations. That’s [a matter of] governance.”
He also mentioned the FIA issued the directive for no reason during the Montreal weekend, given there was no extra policing on the issue and no parameters were given to the teams prior to Saturday’s FP3 session:
“They [the instructions in the technical directive] have been issued by mistake.
“Part of it, the metric, has not been applied. And the extra brackets have been not fitted in any car for the weekend. So, a big noise for nothing.”
Regarding the allowance for an extra floor stay, Binotto said he was “surprised” that Mercedes was able to manufacture it overnight, stating that even his Ferrari team “would not be capable” of doing it as quickly – but says he needs to trust Toto Wolff and his remarks:
“Toto (Wolff) says they did it overnight. What I can say is that Ferrari would not be capable of doing it.
“No doubt I’m surprised that a team is so strong in doing that overnight.
“I can maybe only trust what he’s saying,” concluded Binotto.
Binotto was supported by Red Bull’s Christian Horner on the matter. Horner was even more vocal about the issue regarding floor stays, stating it is “overtly biased” towards solving Mercedes’s issues:
“What was particularly disappointing was the second stay because that has to be discussed in a technical forum,” said Horner.
“And that is overtly biased to sorting one team’s problems out, which were the only team that turned up here with it even in advance of the TD.”
Horner said the bouncing problem is “more severe” indeed at Mercedes, but that it’s down to the Brackley squad to sort their issues, as “it’s not affecting others”, pointing out his drivers Perez and Verstappen “never” complained of porpoising/bouncing:
“The issue with Mercedes is more severe than any other car,” said Horner.
“That surely is down to the team, that’s within their control to deal with that.
“It’s not affecting others. I know they’ve said that other drivers have been complaining, our drivers have never complained ever about porpoising. Certainly, we haven’t had an issue with bouncing.”
The bigger issue, according to the team boss at Red Bull, is a change in the technical regulations in the middle of season, as he argues that any team that is suffering too badly with porpoising has a choice not to race, and if the FIA deems a car dangerous, “they always have a black flag at their disposal”. If a car is shown a black flag by the race direction, it is disqualified from the qualifying/race session and has to immediately go back to the pit lane:
“You can’t just suddenly change technical regulations halfway through a season,” said Horner.
“If a car is dangerous, a team shouldn’t field it. It has that choice.
“Or the FIA if they feel an individual car is dangerous they always have a black flag at their disposal.”
FIA takes steps to reduce porpoising in the interests of safetyhttps://t.co/XTs7zC4oKx— FIA (@fia) June 16, 2022