Mercedes say there is a genuine safety concern behind the FIA’s move to change the design of cars’ floors for the 2023 Formula 1 season.
The sport’s governing body announced last week it intends to introduce new technical regulations for next year forcing teams to make changes to their floors. The FIA intends to reduce the phenomenon of porpoising some teams have experienced this year which it described as “a significant safety matter”.
The move is being opposed by some, including Red Bull, who pointed out not all teams have suffered from porpoising. However Mercedes’ head of trackside operations Andrew Shovlin said there are other safety concerns relating to the current design of the cars.
“Some teams wanted change, some wanted no change,” he said in today’s FIA press conference at Paul Ricard. “I think the compromise was just coming from teams that thought there will be a change, but we want it to be as minimal as possible.
“As we said, as teams we can probably all mitigate this. But if we want to actually get the cars running in a different way, these regulations will always have a car that wants to run very flat on the road.
“There have been a few notable accidents this year where the car is bottoming on the plank, as part of that, a driver loses control, goes over kerb, and it’s been the car hitting the ground that’s actually caused them to land in the barrier at speed. So that’s the bit, the safety argument, I think it’s as much about that as about the comfort.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner claimed the scale of the changes planned by the FIA was too drastic and had been announced too late in the day. Shovlin said the financial impact of the changes was ”practically nil”, but admitted he was keen for the matter to be resolved and final regulations agreed.
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“What we would like is clarity. Are they going to change? If so let’s get on with it and agree it.
“Our stance with the FIA has always been that as a team, we need to fix our problems ourselves. And we set that as an objective from day one, and we’re pretty confident that we could achieve that objective. So that’s why I say for us the big thing is we just want clarity on it.
“But the reality is that these cars will always run close to the ground, they’ll always be banging on the road. And whilst you can mitigate that and improve it, if we want to actually change it fundamentally, then it will…