Mercedes answers Red Bull’s lobbying accusations

© Jiri Krenek for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Andrew Shovlin answers Red Bull’s accusations that Mercedes is lobbying the FIA for a regulations change, in order to solve their own porpoising issues.

The FIA will start enforcing its technical directive aimed at reducing porpoising at the Belgian Grand Prix. The TD will also prevent teams from running ‘flexi floors’.

Two of the teams believed to be exploiting the rules by flexing around the floor skids are Red Bull and Ferrari, so it’s no surprise that they are very loudly opposing the TD.

Red Bull even accused Mercedes of lobbying for this change because it would help them with their own porpoising issues. The FIA is maintaining its position that the TD’s only aim is to promote safety.

Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin was asked if intra-team politics can be kept out of this discussion.

“It’s difficult,” Shovlin said.

“The reality is we are working to solve our problems on our own and I think we have made good progress on that.

“You can understand the conundrum of teams that don’t want the regulations to change. We don’t know that a regulation change would suit us.

“If you think back to 2020 into 2021, we didn’t know that that regulation change was going to hurt a low ride-height car like ours and barely affect a high ride-height car.

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“So we’re certainly not of a position of saying regulation changes are definitely going to be in favour of Mercedes.

“Our stance would be that if we want to solve some of the fundamental issues, you’re not going to do that by leaving the rules alone.

“But when that rule came in during 2020 on safety grounds, Red Bull weren’t opposing it, Ferrari weren’t opposing that from a viewpoint of the governance but importantly, Mercedes weren’t opposing that change.

“It happened. It didn’t suit us but it did come in and it happened.

“Some teams wanted change, some wanted no change and I think the compromise was just coming from teams that thought there will be a change but we want it to be as minimal as possible.

“But as we have said, as teams – we can probably all mitigate this – but if we actually want to get the cars running in a different way, these regulations will always have a car that wants to run very flat on the road and there have been a few notable accidents this year where the car has bottomed on the plank.

“As part of that, the driver loses control, goes over a kerb and it has been the car hitting the ground that has actually caused them to land in the barrier at speed.

“The safety argument is as much about that as the comfort,” the Briton concluded.

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