F1 rival's Mercedes gripe as Lewis Hamilton nabs Canadian GP podium

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Pictured left to right, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner and Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner took aim at Mercedes in the aftermath of Lewis Hamilton's third-placed finish in the Canadian GP. Pic: Getty

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has made an explosive insinuation about rival Formula One team Mercedes, as the debate around porpoising gets progressively more ugly.

Mercedes and their seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton have been the most vocal critics of the new-for-2022 phenomenon of porpoising, which sees the current design of cars bouncing on their suspension at high speed.

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Hamilton has struggled this season but managed to turn things around to finish third behind Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz in last weekend's Canadian Grand Prix.

It was an impressive bounce-back from Mercedes after Hamilton complained of excruciating back pain in the wake of the Azerbaijan GP.

Following the race in Baku, the FIA issued a technical directive as teams were making their way to Montreal for the Canadian GP, that permitted the installation of a second supporting stay in the F1 cars to counteract the effects of the bouncing.

Due to the timing of the FIA's announcement coming just days out from the Canadian GP, team bosses claimed it left them no time to make the necessary changes.

Eyebrows were raised, however, when Mercedes were seen trialling the second stay during practice in Canada, prompting a suggestion from Red Bull's Horner that they knew about the FIA's new directive before other teams.

"What was particularly disappointing was the second stay," Horner said.

"It has to be discussed in a technical forum, and that is overtly biased to sorting one team's problems out – the only team who turned up here with it, even in advance of the technical directive. So work that one out."

Adding further intrigue to Horner's gripe is the appointment of Shaila-Ann Rao as the interim secretary-general at the FIA - a position responsible for overseeing the technical directive.

Rao used to work as a principal lawyer and special adviser to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, with Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto describing the FIA's appointment as "a concern."

Horner has accused Mercedes of exaggerating the issue of porpoising by turning the debate into one centred around driver safety concerns.

Seen here, Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner at the Azerbaijan GP.
Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner looks on from the pit lane during the Azerbaijan GP. Pic: Getty

The Red Bull boss - whose drivers have not been adversely affected - says the onus should be on individual teams to deal with the porpoising issue as best they can.

"The issue with Mercedes is more severe, or certainly it has been prior to Canada, than with any other car. That surely is down to the team," he said.

"It's within their control to deal with that, if it's not affecting others.

"I know it was said other drivers have been complaining. Our drivers have never complained, ever, about porpoising. They've said certain circuits could do with tidying up, perhaps resurfacing in places.

"But we haven't had an issue with bouncing. The problem is that Mercedes are running their car so stiff."

F1 steps in amid ugly porpoising row

F1's bid to intervene in the 'porpoising' row on health and safety grounds produced ill-tempered clashes among team bosses and no progress during the Canadian GP.

The FIA's technical director for single seater racing Nikolas Tombazis is expected to meet the teams' technical directors to find a solution and to reduce or eliminate the dangers caused by the phenomenon of 'porpoising' created by this year's 'ground effect' cars.

While drivers like Mercedes' George Russell welcomed the ruling body's move in the interests of driver safety, other teams expressed displeasure at seeing mid-season rule changes reduce their speed and success.

Discussions on the subject resulted in a heated debate involving the respective team bosses of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, in front of Netflix cameras at the track recording events for the Drive to Survive series.

Wolff, whose Mercedes team's cars have suffered severe bouncing, reacted furiously to suggestions that he wanted the FIA to intervene to "level the playing field" and described comments made by rivals as "pitiful".

He reiterated that the new cars, introduced this year to generate closer racing, had caused physical problems for drivers including back pain, blurred vision, bad headaches and micro-concussions.

"The political manoeuvring doesn't consider what is at the core of this – that since the start of the season the drivers have been complaining. It is something we have to tackle – whatever the solution and whatever technicality has to be implemented.

"We all have the responsibility to take this seriously."

with agencies

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