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FIA's hint at flexing floors of interest to shocked Mercedes

NEWS STORY
06/07/2022

While the main focus of the revised technical directive was aimed at preventing 'bouncing', Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff was particularly interested in the suggestion that some team's floors are flexing more than is permitted.

The revised technical directive, which aims to have a metric in place by the time of the Fench Grand Prix later this month, also mentioned plank wear and flexing, which are considered to be part of the bouncing phenomenon, in that it is "inherently related to the same issues and goes hand-in-hand with the metric".

The FIA's feeling is that while the rules allow no deflection greater than 2mm at the leading edge of the plank and slightly further back, measurements are not taken where the driver sits, and as a result some teams are thought to have engineered the plank's mounting and skid block in such a way that it gives a degree of cushioning. The skids are thought to be flexing more than the allowed 2mm limit and as a result can be used more aggressively without wearing away.

"Nobody had an idea until the FIA brought it up in the last Technical Advisory Committee," admitted Toto Wolff, when asked by The Race. "Which was to a great surprise of all the teams because what's in the regulations, and what was the intent of the regulations, it's pretty clear.

"There is no argument why that could deflect more than what's in the regs," he added. "A bit of a surprise to say the least, more of a shocker."

"When it came to light, we realised there are opportunities that we've perhaps not been taking or exploiting," added head of trackside engineering, Andrew Shovlin. "So, it won't affect us in how we run our car. It may well be it affects our competitors and by virtue of that we move a little bit closer."

"Obviously it's a key performance factor," admits Christian Horner, "so you can understand why they're looking at it, but of the course the difficulty is - if a car runs wide at Copse, I'm sure the driver's backside is getting pretty warm with the amount of wood he's leaving on the aggressive kerbing there, so it's something that, as the regulators, that they are closely looking at, that there's no abusive of it but again it has to be subjective."

"Formula 1 cars have always been ride height sensitive," says Mercedes, Mike Elliott, "but these ones are designed that way. So if you can get the car lower there is performance to be found.

"As to whether it's been fair and equitable? Unfortunately, we don't get to measure everybody's car so I don't know what anybody else has got. And I think we have to just trust in the FIA that they do that job. That they've been around, that they're happy, that there isn't a massive difference.

"They're obviously unhappy enough to introduce a rule that changes that. And we'll need to see what happens in Ricard as a result of that. As to whether there has been a significant advantage or not, I can't really answer the question any more than that."

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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 07/07/2022 15:17

"@Lapps
I'm pretty sure that even if FIA hadn't spotted it, Horner & Marko would, so maybe despite appearances it's withing the regs? Alternatively, their silence to date has been about not wishing to draw attention to things that are too flexible...."

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2. Posted by Spindoctor, 07/07/2022 15:04

"The problem isn't so much interpreting what the Regs mean as that there is simply too many of them: too much regulation.

However, the fact is that F1 is very highly regulated by FIA and this "spirit vs letter" of the Rules argument looks irrelevant. If there are arguments\disputes regarding interpretation\implementation of the Regulations, then FIA is the only rational arbiter.
If FIA have now decided that the original formulation was unclear or improperly policed it is precisely their remit to change either or both. If this advantages or disadvantages one or more teams, that is hardly FIA's problem....
"

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3. Posted by NS Biker, 07/07/2022 2:38

"The regs are likely very clear on how much deflection, where it is measured, the applied load and the location of the load. We've been down this road many times.
If the regs are leaving opportunities open for deflections in other locations to go unregulated, then expect it to happen if there is a performance gain to be had.
All this talk about "Intent of the regs" is fine, but it is only the writers of the regs that need to pay attention to them. The designers often say, the intent means nothing.
Race on. "

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4. Posted by kenji, 07/07/2022 1:42

"@Lapps...yes, the flexing was more than a few mm! Why there has been no further comment from the teams surprises me, more of a 'shocker' really."

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5. Posted by Lapps, 06/07/2022 22:25

"Considering the close-ups we have seen of the outer 3/4 of the Mercedes front wing, I would have thought that Mercedes were experts on the science of aerodynamic flexing. "

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6. Posted by Spindoctor, 06/07/2022 16:55

"This sounds like potentially juicy red meat to the DTS saga...."

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