‘It’s against the regulation’: Alpine boss warns Mercedes upgrade could be ‘protested’

The FIA began a clampdown on "porpoising" and bouncing at last weekend's Canadian Grand Prix.

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer was not convinced by the FIA’s initial decision to allow Mercedes to run an extra stay on their car during the Canadian Grand Prix weekend.

A new metric was brought in last weekend to determine how much oscillating movement the cars are producing over several health concerns were raised regarding “porpoising” and bouncing.

The measurements will be used to determine a safe level of movement and, if a team exceeds that, they will be asked to raise the ride height of their car by a minimum of 10 millimetres.

READ: ‘He’s one on the list for sure’: Williams boss comments on prospect of Piastri replacing Latifi

In extreme scenarios, teams may also be excluded from events for an unsafe level of bouncing, so the measurements taken in Canada will help ensure that the drivers are not being subjected to the heavy impacts that Mercedes’ George Russell and Sir Lewis Hamilton were in Baku.

One of the caveats of the directive was that, since it was passed at such short notice, the teams could install an extra stay on the floor to keep the car stable.

According to a report by Auto Motor und Sport, McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull were all wondering how and why Mercedes happened to have another one ready.

The Silver Arrows confirmed that they had left some people behind in Brackley, and they then flew out later than the rest of the team with the stays in tow.

However, the fact that some teams were able to gain an advantage due to the directive was something Szafnauer had one or two queries about.

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“As far as the process goes, it’s a technical directive – and technical directives, as we all know, are not regulations,” he commented.

“So it could very well be that we shouldn’t be running this in qualifying in the race. If teams have brought those stays, I would imagine they could be perhaps looked at after and protested. 

“So it’s against the regulation as it stands today.

“We definitely don’t have one. And unfortunately, if you do have an extra stay, you can run the car lower and stiffer, and gain some advantage.”

Having found that the extra stay made no difference to the car, Mercedes removed the extra one anyway.

One of the perceived issues of the directive was that some teams’ level of bouncing is a lot safer than others, and it essentially means that every car may have to change its ride height in order to suit any new regulations that come of the directive irrespective of how safe or otherwise their car is.

This creates a problem for teams like Red Bull who have designed a car that performs well on the straight and does not give their drivers a hard time by bouncing excessively.

Therefore, while Red Bull boss Christian Horner is all for making the sport safer, he indicated that it is not fair to punish the teams who executed their designs well under the new technical regulations, to help those who have not.

“You can understand safety being their main concern,” he told Sky Sports.

“But to drop a technical directive like that, just as we’re coming into a weekend without any consultation, it just feels the wrong way to be going about things.

“I think there needs to be proper consultation, with the experts and a solution can be found but it’s a very dangerous thing to be giving the FIA basically the right to set your rear ride height and your setup going into a race.

“What happens if the wind changes in the race? What happens if the ‘porpoising’ gets worse for whatever reason based on the baseline that they give.

“So, it’s the metrics with, how could they measure it? To apply this regulation, that’s what needs to be discussed.

“I think the intent is all well and good but it’s not been introduced in the right way.”

The 48-year-old affirmed that the teams who are actually struggling with the phenomenon should be the only ones needing to change their setups in order to phase out the issue.

“I mean there would be so many things that would be easier to do, stick a bigger plank on it for example,” explained Horner.

“That will get the cars off the ground but trying to mitigate or judge between one car and another, maybe we’ll benefit from it, maybe we won’t.

“I’ve got no idea but it just seems a very complicated way to go about solving an issue and I think it’s not an issue that affects all of the teams.

“I think the influence should be on the teams to get it sorted, there’s a set of regulations that are consistent for everybody there.”

READ: ‘The first time all season’: Sainz and Verstappen agree about Ferrari’s pace in Canada

Max Verstappen went on to win the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday, beating Carlos Sainz after withstanding heavy pressure from the Ferrari.

Sir Lewis Hamilton came home third for Mercedes to claim his second podium of the season, while Alpine’s Fernando Alonso dropped back to ninth having started on the front row due to unfortunately timed Virtual Safety Cars, engine troubles and a penalty for weaving on the straight.