Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has accused rivals of “pathetic” and “disrespectful” behavior in Formula 1 to row over bouncing cars.
Wolff was busted with Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto at the team principals meeting at the Canadian Grand Prix on Saturday.
And he later said he was guilty of “background manipulation”.
Binotto said the behavior of the cars “needs to be improved … [But] It has to be done through the right process”.
Red Bull declined to comment.
The row comes against the backdrop of a controversial intervention by the FIA’s governing body on the matter, which followed requests from drivers to take on the previous race in Azerbaijan.
Wolff’s problem was with Horner’s position that it is wrong to punish teams that have managed to control both bouncing and porpoising – two separate but related matters – and with Binotto who asked Mercedes to make changes to the cars on the matter. as procedural objections to the efforts of the ,
Wolff’s drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have been the most vocal on the jump as Mercedes are among the teams struggling the most.
“It’s a sport where you’re trying to have a competitive advantage or get it but that situation has gone too far,” Wolff said.
“All the drivers – at least one in each team – have said that they were in pain after Baku, that they have difficulty keeping the car on the track or blurred vision.
“And the team principals are trying to manipulate what is being said to maintain their competitive advantage and trying to play the political game when the FIA at least has a quick fix to get the cars in better condition. And that’s what I said.
“I’m not just talking about Mercedes – all cars have suffered in some way or the other in Baku and are still here.
“The car is too stiff or the car is bouncing, whatever you call it. It’s a joint problem we’re having in F1. It’s a design problem that needs to be solved.”
“We’ll have long-term effects that we can’t even judge and at any point it’s a safety risk. Then a little manipulation in the background or Chinese whispers or briefing to the driver is pathetic.”
Hamilton said this week he has been taking pain relievers and repeated sessions of physiotherapy, including acupuncture, in an attempt to address his back problems.
The problem stems from the fact that the new rules introduced this year have reintroduced a phenomenon called ‘ground effect’ in F1.
This forces teams to drive cars with very stiff suspension and close to the ground for maximum performance.
This makes them prone to a phenomenon known as ‘porpoising’ in which a disruption in underbody airflow results in high-frequency bouncing over the straights.
In addition, the stiff suspension and low ride-height can cause the cars to bounce over bumps.
Russell said: “Many different factors, porpoising is something that a lot of teams are on top of, but overall the rigor is very high. It needs to be addressed. There are things that have been removed from cars since last year. It’s meant to simplify things. But it has had a huge impact.”
Those comments are a reference to other technical changes this year such as the simplification of suspension systems on a cost basis and the removal of devices called “innerters” that organize cars.
Meanwhile, the teams are unhappy with the way the FIA has handled the problem.
It issued a technical directive the Thursday before the Canadian race, regarded by many teams as too late notice, and without any prior discussion.
In addition, many considered the ideas in the Technical Directive aimed at addressing the regulations as too complex and unpoliticized, especially with plans to analyze data from cars to come up with an “aerodynamic oscillation metric”. For teams that cannot surpass.
There was also criticism of what was perceived as the FIA’s decision to go back on instructions Friday afternoon in Montreal. The FIA insisted that the teams had misinterpreted the instruction and had always stated that it was intended as the start of an evaluation process, aimed at addressing the issue over a period of time.
Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack described the timing of the instruction as “not ideal”, while another team boss said privately that the timing was “unreliable” and that the FIA’s plan would introduce “a ridiculous level of complexity”.
Several senior figures also said they believed FIA President Mohamed Ben Sulayem had called for immediate action so that he was seen as a “friend of the drivers”.
The approach comes against a backdrop of general discontent within F1 with the way the FIA has been conducting itself on a range of issues since Ben Sulayem became president last December.