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Wolff slams rivals' 'pitiful' response to porpoising debate

With the fallout from the FIA's Technical Directive 39 continuing, Toto Wolff has turned up the heat in the debate over a mid-season regulation change.

Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has accused "pitiful" rival team bosses of "playing political games" amid the FIA's attempts to control the porpoising on the 2022 F1 cars. The sport's aerodynamic regulations for 2022 mean downforce is predominantly generated by airflow under the car, sucking it down to the ground. However, a side effect of this is that the car's natural frequency can cause resonance through the chassis, resulting in the car bouncing or 'porpoising' down the straights. With several drivers having complained of back pain and diminished vision, the FIA confirmed on the Thursday ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix that they had decided, in the interests of safety, to introduce a technical directive aimed at reducing or eliminating porpoising.

Wolff brands other team principals' comments "pitiful"

Mercedes have notably suffered with porpoising more than some other teams, and Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner suggested that teams who are struggling more with porpoising were looking to influence the FIA into changing the rules in their favour. Wolff hit back at such claims on Saturday, claiming that a majority of drivers had experienced discomfort related to porpoising at last weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix. "All drivers, at least one in every team, have said that they were in pain after Baku, that they had difficulty in keeping the car on track, or blurred vision," Wolff told media including RacingNews365.com . "And team principals trying to manipulate what is being said in order to keep the competitive advantage, and trying to play political games when the FIA tries to come up with a quick solution to at least put the cars in a better position, is disingenuous. "I'm not only talking about the Mercedes, all of the cars suffered in some way or other in Baku and still do here [in Montreal]. "This is a joint problem we are having in Formula 1. It's a fundamental design issue that needs to be solved. We have long-term effects that we can't even judge. "At any time this is a safety risk, and then coming up with little manipulations in the background or Chinese whispers or briefing the driver is just pitiful."

Wolff cites other drivers' concerns

Much of the criticism of Mercedes stems from the fact that other teams have managed the porpoising issue better while still abiding by the same regulations. There are also suggestions that Mercedes could raise the ride height on their W13 to alleviate the bouncing – though this would likely result in a loss of performance. Having had difficulty convincing critics that Mercedes' position on the matter is entirely altruistic, Wolff cited the concerns of other teams and drivers by way of evidence. "Of course people will question whether my position is sincere or not," said Wolff. "That's why I'm saying it's not only our problem. "But if a Red Bull driver [Sergio Perez] says you reach 300 km/h, which is when the issue comes up, and with these problems, 'you can even lose your vision when braking or not being able to position the car properly' [quoting Perez]. "Then you listen to the words of [Carlos] Sainz, you listen to what [Daniel] Ricciardo has said, we listen to what [Esteban] Ocon has said, [Kevin] Magnussen and both our drivers. "This is not one team's problem. "This is a design issue of ground effect-cars that needs to be tackled before we have a situation, whatever it is. "And it is not just by putting the cars up [in terms of ride height], because putting the cars up doesn't solve the stiffness of the inherent aerodynamic characteristics."

RESULTS 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - Qualifying