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Christian Horner: ‘Element of theatre’ in Toto Wolff’s F1 safety concerns

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has accused his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff of exaggerating concerns about the driving of the current generation of Formula One cars.

New technical regulations introduced over the winter have had a knock-on effect on the handling of F1 cars this year, causing some cars to bounce dramatically over bumps and be susceptible to an aerodynamic phenomenon known as porpoise, which also results in result in cars bouncing uncontrollably on their suspension.

On the bumpy Baku street circuit a week ago, rebounding problems were so severe for some teams that the sport’s governing body, the FIA, decided to intervene on safety grounds by introducing a technical directive (TD) to police the bounces.

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However, details of the FIA’s intervention have yet to be finalized and a meeting on the matter at the Canadian Grand Prix on Saturday led to reports of an intense debate between Wolff, who was defending the changes, and Horner and the Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto, who argued against it. to them.

After the meeting, Wolff called his rivals’ position “false”, adding that their behavior at the meeting was “regrettable”.

Horner, whose Red Bull cars have won the last six races and are among the least affected by rebounding, has long argued that rebounding is not a matter for the FIA ​​to address, but for teams to resolve independently. .

Meanwhile, Ferrari has questioned the validity of the FIA’s recent actions, with Binotto saying the purpose of a technical directive is to clarify the rules rather than change them.

“Ferrari presented their position regarding TD and Toto is campaigning for a change in the regulations, which is somewhat ironic because his car seemed quite fast today. [during Sunday’s race in Canada] not a lot of rebounding,” Horner said. “And I think he just made it clear to him that maybe his problems were inside rather than everyone’s problem.”

Asked if Wolff was perhaps messing with the Netflix cameras present at the meeting to record footage for the next season of the documentary series “Drive to Survive,” Horner added: “I think there was an element of theater to that meeting. So maybe with the new Lewis movie on the way, he’s getting into the role.”

Part of the FIA ​​technical directive allows teams to run a second support between the car’s main body and its floor on both sides to improve floor stiffness and mitigate porpoise effect. Mercedes was the only team to test a second suspension in practice on Friday, but it was removed from the car before qualifying and the race.

Since the technical directive allowing the second suspension was only issued on Thursday, both Ferrari and Red Bull have questioned how Mercedes managed to produce the part so quickly.

“What was particularly disappointing was the second stay because that has to be discussed in a technical forum and is openly biased towards solving the problems of one team, which was the only team that appeared here even before the TD. So solve that.” Horner added.

Horner stressed that the onus should be on rebound-struggling teams to modify their designs rather than the FIA ​​changing the rules to alleviate the problems.

“The teams have some of the brightest engineering talent in the world,” said Horner. “Things will converge.

“I doubt we’ll be sitting here next year talking about rebound, even if the regulations aren’t taken into account. These cars are still relatively new, they still are as teams add developments to their cars, you’ll probably see them start to address some of the problems. these matters.

“You can’t suddenly change the technical regulations in the middle of the season. If a car is dangerous, a team shouldn’t field it. They have that option. Or the FIA, if they feel an individual car is dangerous, they always have a black flag. at your service”.

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