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F1 flex floor exploitation revelations come as a ‘surprise’, says Mercedes

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As part of discussions between the FIA ​​and the teams over a planned safety measure against excess porpoise that upsets drivers, one area of ​​focus has been the stiffness of the cars’ floors and planks.

Motorsport.com is aware that during discussions at a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting in the week after the Canadian Grand Prix, suspicions were raised that some teams overstepped the limits of the rules that supposedly limit the flexing of their floors and planks. .

The current regulations stipulate a maximum deflection of 2 mm in the two holes of the central plank and no more than 2 mm in its rearmost hole to guarantee that the floor has sufficient rigidity.

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However, there were claims that some teams managed to cleverly flex the flats by up to 6mm in total, which would allow them to run steeper and much closer to the ground for higher performance without the risk of damaging ground effects. strikes.

Sources suggest that several teams were surprised at what their competitors had been doing, with Wolff confessing how baffled he was by the situation.

“Nobody had an idea until the FIA ​​raised it in the last Technical Advisory Committee, which was a big surprise for all the teams,” he explained.

“What’s in the regulations and what the intent of the regulations is pretty clear. I mean, there’s no argument as to why that would divert more than what’s in the regulations. So a bit of a surprise, to say the least. less: more shocking”.

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

In the draft technical directive issued at the British Grand Prix by the FIA ​​single-seater technical director, Nikolas Tombazis, and which comes into force in France, the FIA ​​has announced a tightening of the rules regarding ground stiffness .

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W13

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W13

Photo By: Steve Etherington/Motorsport Images

He made it clear that he was making the move to ensure there was “fair and equal relevancy between all the cars”, which perhaps suggests that wasn’t the case before.

Tombazis made it clear that the FIA ​​believed the teams had “excessive deformation” of the floor: “to achieve significantly lower ride heights and thus indirect aerodynamic gain”.

The 2mm tolerance will be rigorously enforced and the stiffness around the floor hole must now be uniform for a radial distance of 15mm out from the periphery, with variation not to exceed 10 per cent in any direction.

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

Several teams have welcomed the FIA’s move as they suggest the governing body must have acted 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 clear what he wants to see and what he expects.

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

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While it’s unclear which teams were potentially messing with the flexible floors, Mercedes track engineering director Andrew Shovlin reckoned the change could help move his squad closer to the front.

“When it came out, we realized there were opportunities that maybe we hadn’t been taking advantage of or exploiting,” he said.

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

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