Why did a Mercedes experiment upset Alpine so much in Canada?

The appearance of an experimental second-floor residence on Mercedes’ Formula 1 car during the Canadian Grand Prix practice upset at least one rival team.

On the Thursday prior to this weekend’s race, FIA revealed it would intervene to deal with excessive porpoises and bouncing that some teams are experiencing with the 2022 F1 cars.

One of the short-term measures was to allow teams to add a second floor, having previously agreed that the first stay would be allowed between pre-season testing.

The late notification of this technical guidance from the FIA ​​suggested that no team could react in time to have a second car in Montreal – but Mercedes did.

Mercedes’ second stay was an attempt to respond on the spot to the FIA’s technical directive. It appeared on George Russell’s car in FP1 and Lewis Hamilton’s also in FP2.

While it’s not exactly explained how Mercedes reacted so quickly, it would theoretically be feasible to take an existing strut, shorten it and place a mounting point on the bodywork and (more inboard) on the floor.

Motorcycle Racing Formula 1 World Championship Canadian Grand Prix Practice Day Montreal, Canada

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer’s comments on the technical directive and the appearance of a second-floor residence with an undisclosed team (when Mercedes is the only one to lead it…) made it clear that his organization was very unhappy with how this FIA intervention had played out until now.

“If you came here with a stay – we didn’t know because the TD was coming on Thursday, so we don’t have one – that just means you can reinforce the floor, drive the car even lower and gain an aerodynamic advantage said Szafnauer.

“So to be able to do that, I think that’s not fair to the rest of us who couldn’t bring a stay, for example.

“We have to be careful not to change the playing field halfway through the season. I’m just saying we can drive these cars safely. Just raise the ride height.”

Alpine is upset that it stiffened its floor to remedy its porpoise problems at the cost of weight, and now it feels like rival teams are getting a free pass.

But the particular anger at the timing of the technical directive and the potential advantage it gave Mercedes as the only team to try an extra floor stay was interesting.

Especially since Szafnauer made thinly veiled threats that any team running a second residence (again, only Mercedes) could protest.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Canadian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Montreal, Canada

“The TD came out when our technical director flew over,” said Szafnauer. “So it was quite late and we can’t produce a stay here.

“As for the process, it’s a technical guideline. And as we all know, technical guidelines are not regulations.

“It could very well be that we shouldn’t have to do this in qualifying, in the race. And if teams brought shelters, I imagine they might be looked after and protested.

‘It is contrary to the regulations as they stand now. But we certainly don’t have any. And unfortunately, if you have an extra berth, you can drive the car lower and stiffer and gain some advantage.”

However, this seems like a big fuss over nothing, as it has been a futile attempt by Mercedes so far. The experiment was ineffective and the second stay will not be conducted for the rest of the weekend.

Some teams have suggested it wouldn’t be allowed anyway as the technical guideline has been postponed until the next race – but this is only partially true.

The residence on the second floor is considered separate by the FIA ​​from phase two of the technical directive, which defines and applies the bounce limit.

In the eyes of the technical service of the FIA ​​​​the use of a second residence is therefore fine and immediately effective. It’s the other things that are being pushed back to the British GP.

Although ultimately, if Mercedes’ experiment didn’t work and the stay never continued anyway, then the mumbling of a possible protest is simply made a moot point.

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