Mercedes to be handed boost as FIA announces rule change without teams’ approval

Mercedes had been lobbying the FIA for the rule change as they look to close up to Red Bull and Ferrari.

The running order next season is set for a potentially huge mix-up, after the FIA announced that new regulations will be introduced to eliminate porpoising.

The FIA deems the issue to be a “safety concern”, with the Mercedes F1 Team having supplied data to show that the aggressiveness of the bouncing can cause brain damage.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has always insisted on the FIA changing the rules in order of driver safety, with the Austrian having explained the brain damage risk at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

“The FIA has commissioned medical work on the porpoising,” Wolff said.

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“The outcome, the summary of the doctors, is that a frequency of one to two hertz, sustained over a few minutes, can lead to brain damages. We have six to seven hertz over several hours. So the answer is very easy.”

Mercedes have arguably suffered from porpoising more than anybody else this season, with it being one of the main reasons as to why they are yet to win this season.

Sir Lewis Hamilton experienced porpoising so badly at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix that he was seen struggling to climb out of his W13 post-race, after complaining of spinal pain throughout the race.

Whilst Mercedes have suffered, Red Bull Racing haven’t, the Austrian team have rarely experienced the issue on their way to nine race victories in the first half of the season.

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes the FIA interfering and changing the regulations once again is unnecessary, with the Brit believing it should be down to the teams themselves to solve the problem.

“I think that it’s down to a team how it chooses to operate its car,” he said at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

“You can remove the porpoising very easily but that’s at the sacrifice of performance.”

Usually teams would be required to vote on whether a regulation change can happen or not; however, as the FIA are doing it on medical grounds, no team approval is needed.

The regulation tweaks for 2023 have already been announced, but changes will be seen as early as the upcoming Belgian Grand Prix.

From Spa, an aerodynamic oscillation metric will detect the amount of porpoising a driver is experiencing, with a range having been set by the FIA that all teams must stay within.

Should the FIA find that a driver has exceeded the metric, then it will most likely result in a penalty.

From 2023, rear diffuser throat heights will be raised as well as the edges of cars floors; they’ll be raised by 15mm.

That’s not all, additional sensors will be fitted to measure the porpoising more accurately, with stricter floor tests also set to be introduced.

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Whilst some teams such as Red Bull have complained about the regulation changes, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has explained that it’s been done to eliminate the “risk of injury” for drivers who experience the bouncing.

“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,” Ben Sulayem said.

“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.”