Alpine says playing field must remain even should there be regulation changes

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team A522. Miami Grand Prix, Saturday 7th May 2022. Miami International Autodrome, Miami, Florida, USA.

The technical directive that came out just ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix had a lot of tongues wagging about the implication. Some argue it is a Mercedes issue primarily and that they are trying to make their issue everyone’s issue.

Others argue that the TD will actually work against Mercedes if the FIA mandate a ride height adjustment for all teams. Still, other wonder how Mercedes came with new parts that were allowed in the TD on Thursday and there are allegations that the FIA legal council overseeing the TD was also Mercedes boss Toto Wolff’s personal attorney.

You can see where all of this is going and how innuendos and allegations might fester. Still, the FIA are arguing from a safety perspective and while Ferrari and Red Bull are not in sync with what Mercedes is proposing, Alpine’s Otmar Szafnauer says that they would be open to a change on safety reasons if it was the same for everyone and no team gained an advantage from the changes.

“If the FIA determine that it’s a safety issue, just as long as the playing field remains even and some of the teams don’t use it as a negotiating tactic to gain a competitive advantage, then I’m happy with it.

“So we will never oppose anything on safety grounds. But like I said, for us here, the porpoising was two out of 10. It’s almost nothing.
“If it’s a safety issue, it goes to the TAC [technical advisory committee], then it gets proposed to the World Motor Sport Council and then it gets voted in. But I don’t know what’s going to happen with the porpoising. Hopefully it will be discussed at the TAC.”
I’ve no doubt that if they do make a change, it may be with the best intent but making dramatic changes mid-season is a very challenging situation.

I also know that making even the slightest change will have teams trying to exploit the change to the furthest extreme. We are dealing with teams trying to find tenths, hundredths and even thousandths of a second in F1 so just how the FIA can control that will be the real challenge.

The recurring theme for several teams is the fact that Mercedes can simply raise the ride height of their cars despite losing performance for doing so. Mercedes fans took to social media linking stories that suggested Mercedes intimated they have reached the limit of their suspension and may not be able to raise their cars much more.

Still, that is a Mercedes issue according to their rivals. Szafnauer said the same:

“It’s an issue for us, but we raise the ride height, we lose downforce, and we get it to a sensible place,” he told Autosport.
“And I’m pretty sure everybody could do that. I don’t know what the others are doing. But my guess is that they don’t want to give up the downforce so they go to a lower ride height, and that causes porpoising. So I think it’s pretty easy.”

Time will tell but this wouldn’t be the first time the sport moved the goal posts mid season and each time they’ve done so, there has been an impact for some teams. Time will tell.

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Last week just before the Canadian GP I was on Reddit and suggested that the TD would help Mercedes as they are the ones pushing for it. Man, did the pitchforks and torches come out after me, had to just walk away from that one. I can’t help but think that there’s probably a bit of a correlation between the TD being announced just before the GP and the Mercs finishing 3rd and 4th. Personally I’m with Otmar, everybody had to play catch up when the Mercs were lapping everybody, don’t see why it’s different now. Unless it’s because of… Read more »