Mercedes react to Ferrari and Red Bull accusing them of influencing the FIA for favourable rule change

Changes to the regulations are set to be introduced next season.

Mercedes trackside engineer Andrew Shovlin has told Red Bull and Ferrari that there is no evidence to suggest that the proposed rule changes next year are designed to help them.

In order to make sure that “porpoising” and bouncing do not become unsafe next season, the FIA are changing the design of the cars next season.

The front wing edges will be raised along with the diffuser throat, while more stringent deflection tests are to be introduced amid the revelation that some teams are using flexible planks.

There will also be, if the changes go through, more accurate sensors on the cars to better detect oscillating movement.

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A new technical directive will come into effect in Belgium that forces teams to raise their ride height if there is an unsafe level of bouncing on the cars, while moving skid blocks will also be prohibited.

Red Bull and Ferrari were already unhappy about the directive, and they are understood to be among six teams protesting the rule changes next season.

The view from those camps is that Mercedes are pushing for the FIA to help them back to the top of the timing screens, and they are using the excuse of safety to do so.

Shovlin denies this, insisting that his team are already making “good progress” on bouncing anyway.

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“It’s difficult, the reality is we are working to solve our problems on our own and I think we have made good progress on that,” he said.

“You can understand the conundrum of teams that don’t want the regulations to change, [but] we don’t know that a regulation change would suit us.

“If you think back to 2020 into 2021, we didn’t know that that regulation change was going to hurt a low ride-height car like ours and barely affect a high ride-height car.

“So we’re certainly not of a position of saying regulation changes are definitely going to be in favour of Mercedes.”

The Briton reminded his rivals that the German side were more than happy for the rules to change previously in order to make for a safer and more competitive sport.

“Our stance would be that if we want to solve some of the fundamental issues, you’re not going to do that by leaving the rules alone,” added Shovlin.

“But when that rule came in during 2020 on safety grounds, Red Bull weren’t opposing it. 

“Ferrari weren’t opposing that from a viewpoint of the governance but importantly, Mercedes weren’t opposing that change.

“It happened, it didn’t suit us but it did come in and it happened.”

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Shovlin believes that a change was always going to be needed, but he wants to meet halfway so that others are affected as little as possible while still having to budge a little.

“Some teams wanted change, some wanted no change and I think the compromise was just coming from teams that thought there will be a change but we want it to be as minimal as possible,” he affirmed.

“But as we have said, as teams – we can probably all mitigate this – but if we actually want to get the cars running in a different way, these regulations will always have a car that wants to run very flat on the road and there have been a few notable accidents this year where the car has bottomed on the plank. 

“As part of that, the driver loses control, goes over a kerb and it has been the car hitting the ground that has actually caused them to land in the barrier at speed. 

“The safety argument is as much about that as the comfort.”

Sir Lewis Hamilton ended FP3 on Saturday ahead of Sergio Perez at the French Grand Prix to take the fourth fastest lap time as the Silver Arrows look to get involved in the fight at the front and challenge for their eighth podium of the season.