‘Clearly against the regulations’: Toto Wolff fires back after Red Bull boss dismisses flexi-floor accusation

Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are yet to win a race under the new technical regulations, but this could change after the Belgian Grand Prix.

Toto Wolff and Christian Horner war of words.v1

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has aimed a further shot at Red Bull and Ferrari amid the skid block and plank controversy.

The FIA stepped in at the Canadian Grand Prix to try and counter the bouncing phenomenon that has emerged as a result of the new technical regulations.

Ground effect aerodynamics were brought back this year, meaning that the cars run at a lower ride height than before, and this leads to contact between the floor and the track surface.

While excessive contact can affect performance, it can also have long-term health effects, so the governing body brought in a technical directive at the Canadian Grand Prix.

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They measured the cars to see how much oscillating movement there is, and they will set a limit at the Belgian Grand Prix – any team whose car exceeds the limit will be forced to raise their ride height by a minimum of 10 millimetres.

When they measured the cars though, they found some pretty surprising stuff on the underside of some of them.

They found that there was a specific part of the plank being used to deflect more than 2mm, and this part was not covered by regulation, so there is essentially more cushioning for the driver, allowing them to push harder for longer.

Further, they noticed that there is an innovative design at play with the skid block itself, which vanishes inside the plank to avoid it wearing away.

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All of this increases the longevity of the plank, allowing drivers to go a full race distance with minimal bouncing.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has reiterated that any accusations of his team using such a tactic are “rubbish,” but Wolff affirmed that moving skid blocks and deflecting planks are illegal.

“And some [teams] have said that it [a flexi-floor] doesn’t exist,” said the Austrian.

“As a matter of fact, some teams have skids that actually disappear when the car hits the bottom. 

“The reason for skids is that they are the limitation of how much plank wear you can have, and if a skid can disappear miraculously into the floor, that is clearly against the regulations.”

Moving skid blocks will not be legal as of the Belgian Grand Prix, but there is ongoing debate as to whether the deflecting planks will be outlawed for next season.

“The second thing is a plank that deflects or moves away more than the tolerance should be,” explained Wolff.

“The tolerance is one millimetre and if the plank moves away many more millimetres into the car, obviously, you gain more performance there, too.

“The first one is going to disappear for Spa because apparently skid material is not available, and the second is going to be clarified in next year’s regulations.

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“That is still in discussion to put it all out in the open.”

New rules have already been approved for next year to counter “porpoising” and bouncing, including a raising of the floor edges, the diffuser throat, harsher deflection tests and stronger sensors to measure oscillating movement.