September 30, 2022

As part of discussions between the FIA ​​and teams over a planned safety measure against excessive porpoising which drivers are unhappy with, one area of ​​focus has been the stiffness of the cars’ floors and planks.

Motorsport.com understands that in discussions at a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting in the week following the Canadian Grand Prix, suspicions have emerged of some teams pushing the boundaries of rules that are supposed to limit the flexing of their floors and boards.

Current regulations state a maximum deflection of 2mm at the two holes in the center board and no more than 2mm at the rearmost hole to ensure that the floor is sufficiently rigid.

However, some teams have claimed success in cleverly flexing the grounds by up to 6mm in total, allowing them to run with a higher rake and much closer to the ground for increased performance without risking the adverse effects of the floor. strikes.

Sources suggest a number of teams were surprised at what their competitors had done, with Wolff confessing how surprised he was by the situation.

“Nobody had an idea until the FIA ​​brought it up at the last technical advisory committee, which was to the great surprise of all the teams,” he explained.

“What’s in the regulations and what the intent of the regulations is is pretty clear. I mean, there’s no argument that it can deviate more than what’s in the regulations. So kind of a surprise to say the least: more of a shock.”

In response to revelations about flexi-floor antics, the FIA ​​responded as part of its attempt to reduce the effects of porpoising by notifying teams of a planned rule change.

In the draft technical directive issued during the British Grand Prix by the single-seater technical director of the FIA, Nikolas Tombazis, and which comes into force in France, the FIA ​​announced a tightening of the rules concerning the rigidity of the floors.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

He made it clear that he was doing what was necessary to ensure that there was “a fair and equitable relevance between all the cars”, which perhaps suggested that this had not previously been the case.

Tombazis clarified that the FIA ​​believed the teams had “excessive deformation” of the ground: “to obtain significantly lower ride heights, and therefore an indirect aerodynamic gain”.

The 2mm tolerance will be strictly enforced and the stiffness around the floor hole should now be uniform for a radial distance of 15mm outside the periphery – with no more than 10% deviation in either direction.

The FIA ​​added: “Competitors will be required to demonstrate compliance with these provisions by means of detailed CAD and physical installation inspection, as well as finite element analysis.”

A number of teams hailed the FIA’s decision as they suggest the governing body had to act because it felt some teams were going too far with what they were doing.

McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl said: “There must be a reason why Nikolas has made some clarifications on what he wants to see and what he expects.

“From our point of view, we are happy with this clarification which is in the TD because in the end it should help us that we are all on an equal footing.”

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Although it was unclear which teams were potentially playing with flexible floors, Mercedes director of floor engineering Andrew Shovlin believed the change could help move his team closer to the front.

“When he appeared, we realized there were opportunities that we may not have grasped or exploited,” he said.

“So it won’t affect us in the way we handle our car. It may well affect our competitors, and by virtue of that we’re getting a bit closer.”