Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have been left sweating after the FIA decided they may hold a vote over their proposed changes to porpoising rules. The changes were expected to bring the biggest benefits to Mercedes, who have suffered the most from the phenomena but now may not go ahead.
Mercedes have been particularly badly affected by new technical regulations brought in for this season that has seen a return of ground effect. This has also coincided with some teams, particularly the Silver Arrows struggling from porpoising, where the car suffers from high velocity bouncing at high speeds which causes a loss of downforce and hence a loss of performance.
To combat the issue the FIA had originally suggested that teams must raise the floor edges of their cars by at least 25mm for next season. Manufacturers will also have to raise the underfloor diffuser and will be subject to more stringent lateral floor deflection tests.
The planned regulations changes have split the paddock with Ferrari and Red Bull accusing Mercedes of only pursuing the alterations as they have been unable to solve their own porpoising problems.
The Brackley-based team have argued that it is in the interests of driver safety – but the dissenting voices have said this issue can already be solved by raising the car’s ride height. However, this would come with a dramatic loss in performance with each team looking to run as close to the track as possible.
However, the changes could now be under threat which would come as a huge blow to Hamilton and Russell. The FIA now plans to hold a vote on the issue at the World Motor Sport Council, meaning the planned changes may not happen at all. Regardless of the vote, the FIA can still act at its own discretion and go ahead with proposed rule changes.
However, the most likely outcome is the teams will come to some kind of compromise instead. This is the belief of both Christian Horner and Mattia Binotto. The Ferrari chief said they had suggested an alternative of 10mm rather than the 25 suggested by the FIA and hoped this could be agreed upon between the teams.
Red Bull boss Horner has previously spoken of his frustration about the changes as Formula 1 teams operate under a strict budget cap for this season and next, arguing it was too late to make wholesale changes.
“It’s a very late point in the year to be doing this,” he explained. “I think the president’s doing the right thing, he’s collating all the information, and hopefully a sensible solution can be found because it’s too late in the day for fundamental regulation changes, which something like that would be.
He later admitted that the most likely outcome would be a compromise, something that looks increasingly more possible if a vote needs to be held.
“In the end I think we will make a compromise choice, as it almost always happens in situations like this,” the 48-year-old concluded.