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Porpoising down to Mercedes not rules, says Horner

NEWS STORY
21/06/2022

As the row over porpoising looks set to dominate the summer, Christian Horner insists that it is Mercedes car concept that is at fault and not the 2022 rules overhaul.

Though it was barely mentioned during coverage of the race, Saturday's meeting of the team bosses witnessed scenes that will go down a storm with those new 'fans' attracted by the soap opera element to Drive to Survive.

Indeed, talking of storms, several team bosses are said to have left the meeting with faces like thunder, with Toto Wolff having almost lost the plot as he shouted down Horner and Ferrari's Mattia Binotto.

While the Mercedes team was performing miracles in the garage, turning the W13 "s***box" into a potential race winner in days, and Lewis Hamilton's crippling back pain disappeared at a pace that would have impressed Lazarus, some team bosses were voicing their suspicion at the fact that the technical directive aimed at ending porpoising, and which would benefit Mercedes most, came days after - former Mercedes employee and advisor to Toto Wolff - Shaila-Ann Rao had been appointed interim secretary-general at the FIA.

Having already voiced his concern at her appointment, at Saturday's meeting Binotto was joined by several others who expressed suspicion at the timing of Rao's arrival and the issuing of the technical directive that looks to cure the W13's ills.

Horner insists that the issues compromising the W13 are not about the 2022 rules overhaul, but rather Mercedes interpretation of them, and to that extent does not see why all the teams should have to make changes just because one got it wrong - one, some are almost suggesting - that now appears to have a powerful voice within the FIA.

"The issue with Mercedes is more severe, or certainly has been prior to (Canada) than any other car," said the Red Bull boss. "That surely is down to the team. That's within their control to deal with that, if it's not affecting others.

"I know it was said other drivers have been complaining," he admitted. "Our drivers have never complained ever about porpoising. They've said certain circuits could do with tidying up, perhaps resurfacing in places. But we haven't had an issue with bouncing.

"The problem is they're running their car so stiff. I think their concept is the issue rather than the regulation."

Horner joined Otmar Szafnauer and Franz Tost in questioning the timing of the issuing of the directive, and how Mercedes was able to react so quickly to it in terms of a second stay to stiffen the floor that was subsequently removed upon fears of it being protested.

"There is a process of these things to be introduced," said Horner. "I think what was particularly disappointing was the second stay. It has to be discussed in a technical forum, and that is overtly bias to sorting one team's problems out, which were the only team that turned up here with it, even in advance of the TD. So work that one out."

Ahead of the Silverstone race, the FIA will meet with technical directors to discuss the issue, as Horner insists that there is no need for drastic measures.

"You've got some of the brightest engineering talent in the world, and things will converge," he said. "I doubt we'll be sitting here next year talking about the bouncing, even if the regulations are left alone.

"These cars are still relatively new," he added, "I think as teams add developments to their cars, you'll probably start to see them start to address some of these issues. And you can't just suddenly change technical regulations halfway through a season.

"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."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Spindoctor, 24/06/2022 15:44

"@kenji
Yup. "distasteful" because I don't like to see these young blokes being routinely exposed to potential injury for the sake of a "Sporting" spectacle.
Experience in other sports indicates that rapid & repeated accelerations\shaking of the head can cause long-term neurological damage as the brain bounces around. These problems don't necessarily surface for many years afterwards.

"

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2. Posted by kenji, 24/06/2022 2:43

"@ Spindoctor....distasteful ?"

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3. Posted by Spindoctor, 23/06/2022 12:43

"I find the sight of various drivers' heads bouncing wildly as they hit nearly 200mph before the braking zone distasteful & of course its technically unnecessary.
Horner is clearly watching a different series to the rest of us. The RBR's "porpoising" appears less than some others, but that aside, the whole field has the problem to a greater or lesser extent. Similarly, I've seen drivers from several teams, not just Mercedes complaining of the issue.

The crux of this is that Brawn's masterful design to eliminate "hard to follow" has created worse problems, for (nearly) everyone. I always expected RBR to have the best car and win the "lottery" of the new Formula & so it has been. While Mercedes won the lottery last time it ran, several factors were different:

* the issue was raw performance, not potential damage to drivers or accidents
* no cost cap limiting development
* more on-track & digital development allowed

I think it's logical to assume that unless Ferrari gets its act together (history suggests not) RBR will waltz to the Championship & deservedly so - they did a predictably better job than the rest.
However, that doesn't address the problems of bouncing\porpoising. Notwithstanding Horner's dismissive attitude it presents a danger to the drivers' health & could potentially lead to an accident. It's not only the Merc which runs very stiff suspension, that's a consequence of using Ground Effect as the basis for downforce.

It seems Team Principals are not going to agree anything to reduce bouncing which might even marginally diminish their real or perceived competitive advantage. Drivers will tolerate almost anything in order to win, even if it results in long-term damage. That leaves FIA to take the initiative.

On the brighter side Teams will continue to get development data from each race & it is only a matter of time before they work-out effective fixes. I doubt all teams will have succeeded before next season. There's still Ferrari too......"

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4. Posted by kenji, 21/06/2022 23:17

"I think that Wolff's latest admission of having sorted their 'porpoising' problem proves that Horners comments were spot on. "

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5. Posted by Mad Matt, 21/06/2022 8:02

"When Merc had the dominant engine and Red Bull were complaining I said it wasn't right to hobble Merc, it was up to the others to do a better job.

Now Red Bull have done a better job and its up to the other to catch up.

Introducing a safety based regulation to raise the ride height for teams who can't stop dangerous levels of bouncing/porpoising seems entirely reasonable."

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6. Posted by kenji, 21/06/2022 0:31

"Horner is simply putting the facfts out there. He is absolutely correct. IMO this whole saga runs deeper than what we've been led to believe. New cars and new strategies in how to manipulate the system and put your adversaries onto the back foot causing extra expense and stress on lready stretched financial constraints. Message is simple, never undrestimate your enemies and the lengths they will go to. NB. It helps immensley to have an 'inside run'."

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7. Posted by prime, 20/06/2022 21:38

"mercedes is a dangerous shitbox, and they advertise themselves in f1 as incompetent car manufacturers."

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8. Posted by habentsen, 20/06/2022 19:10

"Anybody seen Ross Brawn lately?
I would love to hear his take on this.
The current owners of F1 is about to discover why Bernie ran the sport the way he did for all those years...."

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9. Posted by Roli, 20/06/2022 19:06

"I just wish CH would just shut up and get on with racing, it's what he us paid for. He gas the best driver at tge time the best xsr and the vest designer. All he us doing us stirring it up."

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10. Posted by Superbird70, 20/06/2022 19:05

"In the good old days, when things went wrong for a team, say Ferrari, Toyota, or McLaren they at least had the decency to cheat and just get on with things instead of whining all the time. Mercedes got it wrong and Red Bull didn't."

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11. Posted by Anthony, 20/06/2022 18:25

"I also agree with CH on this occasion "

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12. Posted by Greg, 20/06/2022 16:54

"For once I have to say agree with Horner. "

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