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F1 2022

Dieter's Diary: Table-thumping Saturday as Wolff lets rip

In the second instalment of his Canadian Grand Prix diary, RacingNews365.com Editorial Director Dieter Rencken tells of a fiery meeting of Team Principals as Formula 1's porpoising debate heats up in Montreal.

Toto Wolff
Column
To news overview © XPB

Saturday

Wake up to more of Montreal's capricious weather: Where one forecast predicts cloudy but dry skies, another has heavy rain all day; in the end it is a bit of both. An idea of the fickleness of the region's weather pattern can be gleaned from two Race Director notes issued a little over 12 hours apart.

On Friday, the note read: "Based on the weather forecast from the official weather service provider, no additional set of Intermediate tyres will be made available per driver before P3." A later note stated: "Based on an updated weather forecast from the official weather service provider one set of Intermediate tyres will be made available to each driver before P3."

Once at the circuit, it is clear to me that FIA Technical Directive 39 continues to raise ire amongst team bosses, some of whom suspect the decision to allow additional stays and aerodynamic tweaks are designed to benefit Mercedes - since the recent departure from the FIA of Peter Bayer, the governing body's top F1 executive is Shaila-Ann Rao, previously special advisor to Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff.

In the F1 paddock, such perceptions readily run wild. These are strong suggestions, and thus I expect the Saturday team boss press conference to be lively, and so it proves, with the two main topics being TD39 - there is little sympathy for Mercedes on display – and the future of Oscar Piastri, whom we suggested could be Williams-bound as soon as Silverstone as a replacement for the underperforming Nicholas Latifi.

It turns out, though, to be a fun session and I enjoy bantering with Otmar Szafnauer, but the main takeaways are that team bosses believe TD39 to not be the FIA's finest decision, that Mercedes should sort its issues via set-up, and that Piastri is going somewhere soon, but that details still need to be fully sorted.

Thus, there is no need to revise last week's analysis as we await the next move. The Australian certainly is a young man in demand, being Alpine reserve driver while similarly on call for McLaren, and, it is said, Mercedes – indeed, sources are adamant he has done simulator work in Brackley and has a set of team kit…

After the FP3 session a meeting of team bosses is called by F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali. There were two main topics: The 2023 calendar, still far from sorted, being dependent upon decisions from South Africa about Kyalami, and China pending open borders. No schedule is expected before the summer break and anything beyond a stated desire to stage 24 races – the maximum allowed with team unanimity – is pure speculation.

The second topic is 'bouncing' – aka 'porpoising' – and Wolff is said by multiple sources to have aggressively attacked his peers, accusing them of politicking while the safety of drivers is at stake. He maintains at least one driver per team has complained – true, although the loudest complainants have been the drivers of silver cars – but he was given short shrift, with the resounding message being: "Sort your car…"

It was the first such meeting attended by Netflix, so Wolff's table-thumping crusading was recorded in full technicolour, so should make for spicy viewing come next February, but the question remains: Why make fans wait that long, why not flight such footage topically and again later?

During lunch I chat with Mexican photographer Rafael Gisholt, whom I met in 2019 when he displayed an array of 1:43 scale models at his home race. His collection then numbered around 950 cars representing every season since 1950 – all neatly displayed and labelled in cabinets totalling 25 metres in length. The tally is now close to 1,000, a target he aims to hit this year once the 2022 grid has been added. True dedication.

After qualifying and subsequent media sessions I head for Mercedes for an update on 'bouncing' – folk there are adamant it is not an aerodynamic issue that can be cured through set-up, but is caused by technicalities in the regulations that require current cars to be run extra stiffly; the fact, though, remains some teams suffer less…

While there, I spy the team's Chief Technical Officer James Allison, attending his first race since October. It's always good to catch up with James, Technical Director during the team's recent hegemony. James makes the point that he now has a strategic role within the team and is not involved in current F1 projects; still, he must be in Canada for reasons other than tourism…

As I leave the circuit I reflect upon the mess that is the much-trumpeted 2022 regulations: devised by F1 over a three-year period via a highly qualified technical group working with winning cars on their combined CVs, the proposals were extensively honed during an extended series of technical meetings involving all teams, then ratified after exhaustive analysis and rule-writing by the FIA's top technical delegates for a 2021 introduction.

Covid caused a 12-month delay, providing further time to resolve issues – yet a total revamp is now called for in the name of driver safety. Already the blame game has started: F1 points out that regulatory matters fall under the FIA; the governing body is, though, presided over by different executives following last year's presidential elections (and Abu Dhabi debacle); all the while 10 teams bicker childishly over wire stays…

You couldn't make it up…

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: How worried should Ferrari be by their mechanical woes?

RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth are joined by Julien Simon-Chautemps as they question how concerned Ferrari should be after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

F1 2022 Canadian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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