Saturday, June 25, 2022

New ‘porpoise’ rules give Lewis Hamilton a lifeline but are bound to infuriate Red Bull

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Red Bull’s Christian Horner is leading opposition to changes to the design of the 2022 F1 car, but the FIA ​​has now stepped in

Following driver complaints, which culminated in a difficult weekend in Azerbaijan, the FIA ​​has issued a short- and long-term guideline aimed at reducing the bounce and bounce phenomenon that has marked the season.

Lewis Hamilton has been thrown a World Championship lifeline following a directive from the FIA ​​governing body of Formula 1, the aero regulations introduced this year which have proved so ruinous for Mercedes.

The move is bound to infuriate championship leaders Red Bull, who were far less affected by porpoises and bottoming and who saw a political dimension to the complaints from Hamilton and team-mate George Russell.

“If I wanted the rules to be changed, I would also start complaining about the team radio and make a big deal out of it,” said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner after Max Verestappen’s victory in Baku. “It’s all part of the game. You can compare it to a footballer who falls down in the penalty area and would like to take a penalty. If you change the rules now, you’ll reward some teams who didn’t do their homework properly. That feels unfair to teams that have done a good job.”

The FIA ​​claims it is acting on safety grounds after concerns arose over drivers’ ability to concentrate at speeds in excess of 300km/h. An FIA statement read: “The sport’s governing body has decided that, in the interests of safety, it is necessary to intervene to require teams to make the necessary adjustments to reduce or eliminate this phenomenon.

“In a sport where competitors routinely race at speeds in excess of 300km/h, it is understood that a driver’s entire focus must be on the task and that excessive fatigue or pain experienced by a driver has significant consequences it leads to a loss of concentration.”

Barely able to walk after the Baku experience, Hamilton was considered doubtful for this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix. Although he has declared himself fit to race, the new development will not affect events in Montreal, where the FIA ​​will be logging more data and trying to create a framework for changes.

In the short term, the FIA ​​will focus on the behavior of the floor’s sliding block and planks to determine a safe ride height. In the longer term, the FIA ​​will work with teams to determine how to finally eliminate the impact issue. How that will affect the Championship has yet to be determined, but it may not have hampered Hamilton’s chances of surfacing after such a strong start that he can compete with Russell.

The Canadian team of Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff dealt with questions about the demise of the seven-time champion. Speaking to Channel 4 (via Planet F1), Wolff jumped into the defence: “He (Hamilton) is the best there has ever been. From Abu Dhabi in 2021 dominating the last third of the season to four months later you don’t lose performance. They got a slightly below average car, each of them is trying to further develop the car. They both took a different setup direction. Lewis [in Azerbaijan qualifying] was again very experimental.”

The experiment extended to a new floor configuration that did not work. This prompted Strategy Director James Vowles to apologize to both drivers for the bottoming phenomenon. “We’ve pushed the package and our drivers too far, we’re causing them significant discomfort and we just can’t do that again.”

Soon they won’t have to. Although the ground phenomenon is a recent development that followed as a result of the porpoise’s solution, it has proven just as brutal and will be in play at the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit, which is not dissimilar to Baku with its combination of long straights and slower sections. So Hamilton and Russell are in for another pain in the ass, both physically and figuratively.

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