Toto Wolff claims just a few minutes of bouncing is enough for racers to suffer brain damage, which is why he believes the FIA needs to take action.
The International Automobile Federation FIA has announced changes to the rules around the bottom of the racing cars for the 2023 season. Among the proposed changes is raising the edges of the bottom of the racing cars by 25 millimeters, which would prevent the racing cars from bouncing, but the changes are not supported by most teams due to the unnecessary costs of redesigning the racing cars.
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been listening to the views of teams and drivers in recent weeks, seeking to gain a better understanding of the issues before deciding on action. Most of the teams would welcome the raising of the floor by a maximum of 10mm, but for now it does not appear that the president is ready to compromise, while the teams on the other hand are even announcing a rebellion using legal means.
The Mercedes team is one of those advocating changes, which is understandable, as they suffered the most from bouncing this season among all the teams. The boss of the team, Toto Wolff, is now supporting the changes with a medical report, which he is expected to see on Saturday at a meeting with Ben Sulayem. "There is a lot of talk about lobbying one way or the other, but at the end of the day, what are we talking about?" said the Austrian.
"The FIA has ordered medical investigations into the effects of bouncing and these have shown that a frequency of one to two Hertz lasting a few minutes can lead to brain damage, but we are dealing with 6 to 7 Hz over a few hours. Therefore, the answer is very simple - the FIA must act."
With the race for the Belgian Grand Prix, a new technical directive comes into force, where the teams will have to adhere to the AOM (Aerodynamic Oscillation Metric) parameter, which determines the maximum frequency of bouncing of racing cars. At Ferrari, they believe that these measures alone will be enough to get rid of the worst cases of jumping, which in the last few races, anyway, could not be observed even in the Mercedes team's racing cars. "I think we have to be more careful when we talk about safety-based changes," said Laurent Mekies, Ferrari's sporting director.
"I think we were all present here at the meeting when we talked about the protective arc. These are important topics of conversation and need to be separated from the conversations we are having now with other teams and the FIO regarding bouncing. In this context, the technical directive in Spa already does its job well."
Wolff admitted that bouncing had not been a problem in recent races, but he said it would be wrong to think the problem had been eradicated. "I still firmly believe that the FIA has no choice but to take action. I don't want racers bouncing around at a track like Spa or any other where the track surface is full of bumps and we haven't done anything about it. By then it will be too late. The argument that there was no jumping in the last few races is not true, because the tracks in Silverstone, Paul Ricard and Austria are not tracks where jumping would occur," added Wolff.
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