This led the FIA to bring in a new test to gauge the amount of weight the wings can take and check their flexibility. The rules stipulate that wings should be bendable in certain conditions even though any kind of wing has some natural bending traits. However, the issue at hand is that FIA is bringing the new test in France at the French GP later in June which means there will be a couple of races where the teams will retain their advantage if there was any being had.
Now Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said that this is an unacceptable situation and he’s threatening legal action.
“We have seen in the past that complicated re-designs for teams have a delay. It’s clear if you have a back-to-back race, or maybe even two weeks, it’s too short for everyone to adjust, but we have four weeks [from the May 11 introduction of a new technical directive] to Baku,” he told reporters in Monaco.
“It is incomprehensible that in four weeks you can’t stiffen up a rear wing for the track that is probably the most affected by flexible rear wings. So that leaves us in no man’s land. The technical directive says that the movement of some rear wings has been judged as excessive, so teams who run these kinds of wings are prone to be protested and probably this is going to go to the ICA (International Court of Appeal) and nobody needs this messy situation” he added.
McLaren’s team principal Andreas Seidl is in agreement with Wolff.
“When you see all the videos and pictures from Barcelona it’s pretty clear what was happening there. Therefore we welcome the reaction from the FIA with a technical directive which we are also happy with, the basic content. From our point of view, there is no reason after not just one team – we talk about more teams here – had already the advantage of doing things which in our point of view are clearly against the regulations,” said Seidl.
“They had the advantage already for several races, which is something we’re obviously not happy with. But now allowing them to have a further advantage for some more races is clearly something we strongly disagree and we’re already in conversation with FIA,” he explained his grievances.
While the two iconic teams are protesting, Red Bull seems stern in its stance. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has hit back and claimed that even the Mercedes has a wing that bends.
“I think if the camera was facing the other way on our rival’s car, we would be having the same discussion [about legality]. Look at the front wing endplate/flap, as you can see it starts to disappear out of shot and then it reappears. So what’s the difference between that and the rear?,” quipped a persistent Horner in an interview with Sky F1.
Horner admitted that his team will need to make modifications for the new test which takes time and could cost the team as much as half a million dollars. He also said due to the cost cap, this would mean his team would likely not get a few updates they had planned.
“Look we are going to have to make alterations for the next test which has been brought in. That costs time, money and resource but we’re not the only team that is going to have to do that. It’s probably going to be a bigger burden for the likes of Alfa Romeo and other teams who are right on the limit with it. But it is just one aspect of the car. We’ve seen these tests change many, many times and there is a lot of noise being made about it, it’s been stoked up all for obvious reason and of course, you guys [the media] fall for it hook, line and sinker,” he added.
Ferrari’s team principal Mattia Binotto was more forthcoming. He was very open about the fact that the teams were exploiting a loophole in the rules, including his own team. Binotto also said that his team would have to modify the wing for the new FIA test, though also said that the lap time deficit wouldn’t be much to his team.
“Yes, we are exploiting. I think all the teams are exploiting somehow what’s possible, and what we believe is right. The [FIA] technical directive is clarifying furthermore, and we will need to slightly adapt. I think it’s impacting Ferrari, certainly on the lap time from what it seems very, very little. But there are some redesigns which need to be prepared to comply fully to the technical directive,” he concluded.
It is interesting because Ferrari which admitted to being exploring these rules before the clampdown, finished P1/P2 in FP2 of the Monaco GP, while Carlos Sainz Jr was P2 even in FP1. The Ferrari’s were followed by the Red Bull of Verstappen, which means the fastest cars as of now are the ones that could have an illegal wing which would further stir the controversy in the case of a very competitive weekend in Monaco and Azerbaijan as Mercedes and McLaren are direct rivals to both Red Bull and Ferrari.