Mercedes principal Toto Wolff slams other F1 team bosses amid porpoising debate

Chris Medland
RACER
Toto Wolff, Executive Director Mercedes, speaks during a media conference ahead of Sunday's Emilia Romagna Formula One Grand Prix, at the Enzo and Dino Ferrari racetrack, in Imola, Italy, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. (Mark Sutton, Pool via AP)

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says he told other F1 team bosses they are being “disingenuous” and “pitiful” by briefing their drivers not to talk about the severity of bouncing and porpoising.

The FIA has stated its intention to introduce a new technical directive to define a maximum acceptable amount of vertical movement that drivers can be subjected to, but the move has received criticism from many teams and drivers.

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With Red Bull team principal Christian Horner saying the FIA is going about trying to solve the issue the wrong way, Wolff was critical of what he claims is some drivers not being listened to by their bosses.

“This is a sport where you’re trying to keep a competitive advantage or gain it,” Wolff said. “But this situation has clearly gone too far.

“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. 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.

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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during the Azerbaijan Formula One Grand Prix at the Baku circuit, in Baku, Azerbaijan, Sunday, June 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

“That’s what I said. I think we want the cars to be…all of the cars — because I’m not only talking about the Mercedes — all of the cars suffered in some way or other in Baku, and still do it here. The cars are too stiff. The cars bounce or whatever you want to call it.

“As a matter of fact, this is a joint problem we are having in Formula 1. It’s a design issue and not a fundamental design issue that needs to be solved. We have long-term effects that we can’t even judge, but at any time this is a safety risk and then coming up with little manipulations in the background or Chinese whispers or briefing the drivers is just pitiful.”

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The comments come after a meeting of team principals in Montreal Saturday morning, and although Wolff admits he understands why his own position would be questioned given Mercedes’ struggles, he says the number of other drivers who have spoken out at times shows that it’s a wider issue.

“So of course, people will question whether my position is sincere or not. That’s why I’m saying it’s not only our problem, but if a Red Bull driver says you reach 300 kilometers an hour — 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, said [Sergio] 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 a 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, because the cars putting the cars up doesn’t solve the stiffness of the inherent aerodynamic characteristics.”

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