Mercedes: What’s gone wrong at the F1 and can they recover?
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Lando Norris has given his opinion on the porpoising row that is brewing between Lewis Hamilton and Christian Horner. The FIA hopes to bring in a new technical directive to reduce the amount that cars are allowed to bounce, Mercedes support the change but it is opposed by Red Bull.
New regulations for this season saw a return of ground effect to Formula One cars in order to promote closer racing. However, low ride heights have caused some cars to bounce up and down very quickly with the Silver Arrows affected particularly badly. The issue has caused seven-times World Champion Hamilton to suffer from severe back pain while other drivers have complained of nerve damage and sore necks.
The FIA issued a new technical directive in the build-up to the Canadian Grand Prix designed to limit the amount the cars were allowed to bounce, those that were suffering from the worst bouncing would be deemed illegal on safety grounds. However this has split the paddock with teams like Red Bull and Ferrari opposing the move.
Now, McLaren driver Lando Norris has offered his opinion on the subject. In his column for the Telegraph the British driver spoke about his conflicted feelings on the issue ahead of the British Grand Prix.
“It will be interesting to see whether the new FIA technical directive regarding porpoising has come into effect by then,” he wrote. “Obviously, that was the major talking point over the Canada weekend and I must admit to being a bit conflicted on it.
“The truth is we are not massively affected by porpoising, so we were not pushing for change. But safety has to come first.
“If there is a real danger that drivers could have long-term health consequences from the bouncing, or that they could lose focus and crash, then something has to be done. I can see both sides.”
Hamilton has spoken passionately about the need to find a solution to the issue in the interests of safety.
“I’ve definitely been having more headaches in the past few months as a result,” the Briton explained. “When you’re experiencing 10Gs on the bounce on a bump that is a heavy load on the lower part and the top part of your neck.
“Ultimately, I think safety is the most important thing. I think there is a lot of work to be done and it’s positive that the FIA are working towards improving it, because we have this car for the next few years.
“So it’s not about coping with the bouncing for the next four years, it’s about completely getting rid of it and fixing it so that the future drivers, all of us, don’t have back problems moving forwards.”
However, Horner is less sympathetic and believes it is a team specific issue that should be sorted out internally instead. The Red Bull’s of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have not really suffered from porpoising and the team sits top of both Championships. Unsurprisingly, the 48-year-old is reluctant to see anything change as a result.
“The issue with Mercedes is more severe than any other car,” Horner explained. “That surely is down to the team. That’s within their control to deal with that, if it’s not affecting others. We haven’t had an issue with bouncing. The problem is they’re running their car so stiff. I think their concept is the issue rather than the regulation.”
With members of the paddock so far apart in their views it seems unlikely that a situation to the issue will be found before the British Grand Prix gets underway in just under two weeks time.
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