86 percent of Formula One fans believe that the FIA changed the sport’s 2021 regulations to disadvantage Mercedes in the hopes of giving rival teams a better chance of taking the fight to the Silver Arrows, according to a poll by Formula1News.co.uk.
The poll, which sampled 1,482 readers, also found that 67 percent of the sample believe that such tactics to make Formula One more competitive and entertaining will hurt the sport in the long term.
The FIA mandated cuts to the rear floor of the 2021 cars in a bid to reduce cornering speeds and decrease the loads being exerted on the tyres following a number of tyres bursting towards the start of last season.
This has resulted in this year’s cars having less rear downforce and stability than their predecessors – and the consensus in the paddock is that cars with a low-rake aero design philosophy have been hurt considerably more than their rivals.
Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer has been one of the most vociferous critics of the regulation changes ever since it transpired that they had hurt low-rake cars more so than their high-rake counterparts.
“When we last raced here in Bahrain – just four months ago – we were heading for a podium, on merit, before a power unit issue ended Checo’s race,” Szafnauer said after qualifying for the 2021 season-opener in Bahrain.
“We will not be anywhere near that kind of performance here now, and the direct cause of that performance drop-off is the new-for-2021 aero regulations, imposed on all the teams.
“If you compare the qualifying times between those two races here in Bahrain, now and four months ago, it looks like the high-rake aero philosophy cars have gained around a second per lap compared to the low-rake aero philosophy cars.
“So Mercedes and ourselves are the teams worst affected,” he emphasised.
Continuing, he said: “I’m not happy. And when I say I’m not happy, I mean I’m not happy for our two great drivers; I’m not happy for the 500 great men and women who designed, built and are now running our new car; and I’m not happy for our sponsor-partners or our fans, either.
“Having said that, we will of course now work hard to make up as much of the performance deficit as possible in the upcoming races.”
He added that they are unable to simply switch over to a high-rake aero philosophy as the suspension for their 2021 challenger has been homologated.
“After carefully analysing data from testing and this weekend, it is clear that the new-for-2021 aero regulations have impacted cars with a low-rake aero philosophy significantly more damagingly than cars with a high-rake aero philosophy.
“Specifically, the change in floor dimensions and profile at the rear of the cars has had a profound negative effect on the performance of cars with low-rake aero philosophy, such as our car and the Mercedes car.
“It is not only us who are speaking about this issue – Toto [Wolff] spoke about it in the FIA press conference yesterday.
“We cannot make a change to a high-rake aero philosophy car even if we wanted to, and neither can Mercedes, because the suspension on this year’s cars has been homologated.”
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