Mercedes remove upgrade after cheating concerns voiced by rival teams

The new directive introduced by the FIA this weekend has sparked debate among the teams.

Before qualifying on Saturday, Mercedes took off the second floor stay that they implemented ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix weekend after questions were raised by McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull.

The Silver Arrows have been suffering greatly from “porpoising” and bouncing this season amid the new technical regulations that brought about the return of ground effect aerodynamics.

The aerodynamic phenomenon has been costing the Silver Arrows around a second a lap all year compared to Ferrari and Red Bull at the front and, even after they appeared to solve “porpoising,” the low ride heights of the new machines caused incessant contact with the rack surface.

READ: Hamilton admits health concern over porpoising as Russell calls for solution

Not only does this continue to affect performance, but it also subjects the drivers’ spines and heads to heavy contact, leading to safety and long-term health concerns.

After those worries were aired, the FIA passed down a new technical directive ahead of this weekend’s race in Montreal, introducing a metric for oscillating movement.

The governing body will use this to create a limit on how much movement a team is allowed to have on their car before it becomes unsafe.

Should their bouncing become excessive, they will be asked to raise the ride height of their machines and, in the worst-case scenario, they could even be disqualified from the event.

This in and of itself raised concerns from other teams on the grid who, having done a good job of making their cars competitive and safe from excessive bouncing, feel that teams who have not built a sound race car are having their job done for them by the FIA.

Article continues below

The FIA also permitted teams to install an extra floor stay to keep the car stable and stop it from whacking the track surface, and Mercedes brought another one with them to Montreal.

McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull were all said to have raised concerns as to why and how the German outfit had extra stays ready when the new directive was launched at some short notice.

READ: Red Bull furious with the FIA for bending to Mercedes’ will

Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer appeared to concur with this assessment.

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

“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.”

Subsequently, Mercedes opted to remove the second stay from their car to rescind any advantage they might have had by installing it in the first place.

Sir Lewis Hamilton qualified fourth in wet conditions on Saturday, with George Russell down in eighth after a failed gamble, going onto Slicks at the end of the session but spinning out as they failed to find any purchase.