FIA president defends controversial move as Red Bull and Ferrari criticise Mercedes

Mohammed ben Sulayem has reiterated the FIA's emphasis on safety.

The FIA have approved changes to next season’s technical regulations despite opposition from Ferrari and Red Bull.

Mercedes, among other teams, have been suffering from the effects of “porpoising” and bouncing so far in 2022, and this has cost them performance on the straights.

Early in the season, the Silver Arrows tried to fix the issue by raising the rude height of the car, but this only served to worsen their performance in the corners.

However, performance was not the only issue pestering them; there was something a lot more pressing at play that they felt needed to be addressed.

READ: Ex-F1 driver calls for heads to roll at Ferrari as Mattia Binotto faces the sack

In fact, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz felt the same way, so he and George Russell both spoke out about the need for the FIA to intervene.

The problems came to a head in Baku, where Sir Lewis Hamilton struggled to get out of his car t the end of the race because of back pain, so a new technical directive was introduced ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix.

This enabled the FIA to ask teams to raise the ride height of the car by a minimum of 10mm as of the Belgian Grand Prix if they felt that there was too much oscillating movement.

This accepted level of movement was determined by measurements taken in Montreal, where the governing body found some other interesting quirks.

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They spotted that there were parts of the floor on some cars that were flexing more than 2mm, while there was also a unique use of skid blocks, which disappeared into the plank to reduce wear.

Interestingly, this has nothing to do with safety and it was not technically illegal, but it will be as of the race in Spa at the end of August, so the general perspective from Red Bull and Ferrari is that Mercedes are using the argument of safety to change the rules in their favour.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner even suggested that Mercedes might be telling their drivers to “b****” about the issue as much as they could so that they could influence the FIA.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto agreed with his counterpart’s further elaboration that it was too late to introduce changes for next season, which will see a radical redesign of the cars that are already in production.

The Italian also assured that safety is not a good enough reason to bring alterations after multiple suggestions that Mercedes need simply raise the ride height of their car to avoid bottoming.

“I hope there won’t be any changes, I don’t see any real reasons to make changes to the technical regulations for safety reasons, especially if we look at the latest races,” said Binotto.

“In addition, if the aerodynamic regulations were to change for 2023 it would be a considerable problem considering the time of year we are in, there would be very little time to change the concept of the new car.

“And, I repeat, there are no reasons to introduce changes to the technical regulation by citing safety reasons so, I think it can’t happen, and if it does, we’ll try to figure out how to stop them.”

Despite warnings that there might be a protest, FIA president, Mohammed ben Sulayem, asserted that safety is paramount, so the proposed changes are set to go through.

“Safety is absolutely the highest priority for the FIA, and we have devoted significant time and resources to the analysis and resolution of the issue of porpoising,” he stated.

“I have personally discussed this matter with all of the teams and drivers, and while of course there are some differences in opinion owing to varying competitive positions, it is very clear that the FIA has a duty to act and ensure that the drivers are not put at undue risk of injury as a result of this phenomenon.”

Ferrari, Red Bull and four other teams are thought to be against the changes being brought in next season.