As part of the FIA’s efforts to eradicate excessive porpoises, it also reinforces the stiffness of the floor to ensure a level playing field between teams.
It is suspected that some teams have found clever ways to make their cars run lower than their rivals through more flexible floor components.
By using a less stiff floor, teams can be more aggressive with their straight front height to increase performance – as there is less concern about porpoising and board wear.
But as part of the FIA’s investigation into the porpoising phenomenon in F1, it found that some teams were exploiting gray areas to fully comply with rules and underfloor controls, while still running their racing cars. a way that was not originally intended.
This was originally thought to be done primarily by crews making sure their floors and boards were stiff enough in the areas checked, but then flexed in other areas.
However, Motorsport.com has learned that following recent discussions between the teams and the FIA at the weekend’s F1 Commission meeting, an even more complex trick has emerged.
It is suspected that some teams have cleverly divided the protective blocks, which protect the holes where FIA board thickness measurements are taken, into separate sections.
There is a main skid block that runs around the majority of the hole, but then a further back section that independently moves up and down in the board to become fully enclosed and protected should the car hit the ground.
By disappearing inside the board, this section does not wear out when the rest of the ground hits the track – so it remains at its original thickness to be fully compliant with the previous 9mm depth checks carried out by the FIA after the races.
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
Until now, teams only needed to provide enough thickness to one area of the hole to comply with the rules – so the moving part of the skate would have no problem getting past that.
From the Belgian Grand Prix, when the new ground stipulations come into force, the FIA controls on the thickness are modified.
In the draft TD sent to the teams before the British Grand Prix, it was noted: “we wish to confirm that compliance with this article will be required around at least 75% of each periphery”.
This means that teams will no longer be able to use small areas of movable pad material to help comply with the rules in a single area.
mercedes Boss Toto Wolff, whose team hailed the FIA’s decision to act on the stiffness of the floor, confirmed at the Austrian Grand Prix that two tricks had emerged during the latest discussions.
“In fact, some teams have skids that go away when the car bottoms out,” he said.
“The reason for skids is that they limit the wear and tear on the boards you can have. And if a skid can miraculously disappear into the ground, that’s clearly against the regulations.
“Then the second thing is a board that can veer off or also veer off more than the tolerance should be. The tolerance is one millimeter. And if a board veers off a lot more millimeters in the car, obviously, you gain in performance there too.
“I think the first [skid tricks] will disappear for Spa…because apparently skid gear is not available [until then]. And the second will be clarified in next year’s regulations.
RedBull and Ferrari have been at the heart of the focus on flexible floors and non-slip block tricks, having been the fastest teams so far this season.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner is adamant his side have done nothing.
“It’s total bullshit. Absolute rubbish,” he said. “I think we are mixing issues here.
“Maybe he’s referring to, I don’t know, the cars around him at the moment. I have no idea, but I have absolutely no issues or concerns on our floor.
Ferrari admitted, however, that the clarification regarding the new ground tests will force its team to make some changes.
“There will be some changes that will be required because now a new clarification has been released with new tests that are required on new requirements, new specifications,” he said.
“It will take time to do so at least I think it’s good to soften Belgium because [porpoising] not being a subject, there is no need to rush.
Ferrari F1-75, bottom view
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
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