Red Bull team principal Christian Horner suspects that there are some devious tactics at play from Mercedes as they try to action a change in regulations next season.
The Silver Arrows have been off the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari this year after the return of ground effect aerodynamics under the new technical regulations, and one of their bigger issues has been “porpoising” and bouncing.
The aggressive contact with the track surface became a safety issue, so the FIA stepped in and introduced measures to make the cars safer as of the Belgian Grand Prix after the summer break.
Next season, they have proposed changes to the front wing, the diffuser throat, the stringency of deflection tests and the strength of the sensors in order to make for a safer sport.
However, the view from Red Bull and Ferrari is that Mercedes are using safety as an excuse to swing the rules in their favour having spent the first half of 2022 as the third-best team.
Horner did not “see any issues” with oscillating movement at last weekend’s French Grand Prix, so suggests that minor tweaks are needed, not a wholesale change of the rules.
“Again, I didn’t see any issues here, I think the last three or four races, you really didn’t see any issues,” he said.
“So I think that there just needs to be a common sense solution, not rewriting the rulebook for next year at a point of the year, with budget caps where they are, which is just too late.
“I think it’s actually an even bigger issue for some of the smaller teams, that quite simply would not have the resource to be able to react.
“I think whatever measure is taken, it just needs to be sensible.”
The 48-year-old’s argument throughout has been that Mercedes can get rid of “porpoising” by raising their ride height, but they do not want to do that because of the performance they would lose as a result.
He therefore feels as though safety is not the big concern it is being made out to be.
“I’d actually dispute it is a safety issue, it’s down to a team how it chooses to operate its car,” explained Horner.
“You can remove the porpoising very easily, but that’s at the sacrifice of performance.
“Therefore, it’s not the duty of the FIA to ensure that a team is competitive, otherwise we’d have had engine BOP [balance of performance] over the last 10 years.”
Horner added that something as serious as safety would not have to pass through a vote, implying that Mercedes are aware that they likely would not win that vote if the changes they are proposing were purely based on performance.
“[Safety is] a very easy card to stand behind because, theoretically, it’s not then the subject to a commission or a World Council vote,” he stated.
“I think something can be done, but I think that it just needs to be sensible, the numbers that have been discussed are just way too extreme compared to the reality of what probably could be done.”
The rule changes for next season, in Horner’s eyes, are too big a change given that work has already begun on next year’s machines.
“It’s too late to redesign a car now for next year, if they’re talking about the 25mm rises in the floor height, that’s a completely different set of aerodynamics,” he affirmed.