The FIA introduced a new F1 car design before the start of the 2022 championship, generating the downforce from the car’s floor and its vortexes. However, the aerodynamic changes led to the surfacing of the porpoising issue, which has troubled the F1 teams this season, especially Mercedes. After a series of complaints about violent bouncing in Baku, the FIA decided to intervene on safety grounds. The F1 governing body issued a technical directive to counter/reduce the extent of porpoising. The regulation change will come into effect in July at the French Grand Prix. 

The original directive aimed to reduce the number of vertical oscillations in F1 cars during a lap and throughout the race. The FIA also invited the teams to contribute to creating an Aerodynamic Oscillation Metric(AOM). The unique metric will allow the governing body to monitor the amount of porpoising. However, the FIA recently introduced a new technical directive focusing on plank wear and flexibility.

Formula 1 FIA
Formula 1 Cars 2022

As reported by The Race, the FIA thinks the plank wear and flexibility issues are related to the porpoising concerns and go along with the metric. The directive stated a strict 2mm flexibility limit in the defined plank region. Mercedes’ boss Toto Wolff has interpreted the FIA’s latest directive and suggested that the latest revision has come following concerns that several teams have found a loophole around the area behind the plank with no measurement point present. The teams are exploiting the plank’s mount and skid block to attain some extra give. However, now that the FIA has pointed out the concerns with the new directive, it would be deemed a breach of regulation at the French Grand Prix.

Wolff Shocked By the FIA’s New Directive:

The Mercedes principal said that nobody had any idea about the loophole before the FIA mentioned it in the last Technical Advisory Committee. Wolff believed that it came as a big surprise to all teams as the intent of the regulation was pretty clear. Toto added, “There is no argument why that could deflect more than what’s in the regs. A bit of a surprise to say at least-more of a shocker.”

Toto Wolff & Christian Horner
Toto Wolff & Christian Horner

Moreover, Mercedes Trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin shared that when the matter surfaced, the Silver Arrows realized they missed an opportunity to exploit the flexibility loophole. Shovlin said it would not affect Mercedes on how they run the W13. But, the British engineer felt the flexibility restriction might affect the frontrunners, and his team could move closer to them. The leading outfits, Red Bull and Ferrari have been associated with the loophole. Hence, they would have to make changes to stay within the regulation.

Meanwhile, Red Bull boss Christian Horner was surprised that the FIA’s focus shifted to policing flexibility. Horner admitted that flexibility is a key performance factor. Hence, he understood why the sport’s governing body was looking into it. Moreover, the former British driver pointed out that the regulators are closely looking that the factor is not being abused. But, he thought that it needs to be subjective. Christian concluded the driver could feel back pain while running the car through Copse due to aggressive kerbing.

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